My Modest Proposal to build “Expensiveways” on the 405!

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Cop giving traffic ticket

Imagine pumping money out of the Newport Coast like an oil well.

.I think that I may be switching sides in the 405 toll lane debate.

I think that maybe we should build Alternative 3 after all.

Wait, wait — hear me out. It would not shock me if, by the end of this article, my friends Vern the Publisher and the mysterious Mayor of Quimby might agree with me.

Before I begin, though, let’s agree on two things:

(1) We want to allow people driving up from the Newport Coast to get up to Long Beach as quickly as possible, right? (Nod your head even if you don’t actually care about this.)

(2) We all believe in following the law, right? (Again, nod your head even if you violently disagree.)

All right, then, here’s my modest proposal.

(By the way, if the 405 tollway, which I call the “expensiveway,” is actually built, we will actually do this. Democrats will campaign on this, and it will be extremely popular with voters, and it will lead to Democratic control of the whole bloody coastal region north of the 73. Within a year Newport Coast will be begging us to close the expensiveway down — but we won’t until it’s paid for!.)

OK: We will build the tollway and it will have a 65 mph speed limit — because that’s the official speed limit on the 405.

When someone gets a ticket to get onto the tollway (or rather when their transponder registers), it will come with a time stamp.

At 65 miles per hour, traveling 13 miles on the expensiveway should take one exactly 12 minutes on the nose. (Do the math, it’s not hard: 13 miles/65mph = 13/65 hour = 1/5 hour = 12 minutes.)

If one goes 70 mph, say, it will take 11 minutes and 8.5 seconds.

At 75, it will take 10 minutes and 24 seconds.

At 80, it will take 9 minutes and 45 seconds.

Do you see where I’m going here? With transponders at the beginning and end of a trip, you can calculate duration of travel down to the second, and therefore speed of travel down to the fraction of a mile. (You can’t do that on a freeway without a lot of work!)

And we all believe in following the law, right? (Remember, I made you nod?)

So here’s the system: car passes from the 73 to the 405, gets a time stamp. It exits 13 miles up the road, and the finely calibrated system gives it another time stamp. It automatically calculates the speed of travel and docks the car the cost of the fine — increasing after the first offense, of course — while a photo is taken automatically to show who was driving the car.

In fact, I’ll bet we could rig up the transponders so that it will print out a little receipt:

“Calculated Speed: 81.4 mph. Presumed Offense number: 2. Calculated fine: $1067.”

Will the wealthy care? It’s a small price for them to pay for being able to whiz by the suckers in the other lane stopped in traffic, isn’t it? In fact, my bet is that for the wealthy, having these little tickets — we could rig the transponders to print them out in gold ink on expensive linen paper — would turn out to be a status symbol. “Oh, you went 81.4 mph in the toll lane? Well, I went 97.3 mph in the toll lane! For the eighteenth time! I had to pay a $31,000 ticket! That’s how rich I am!

Everybody wins! The rich get pampered and get to flaunt their wealth and privilege, the state shares the benefit from the fines with the county and we balance the budget with better schools and services! And the best part is, the rich will actually be penalized for breaking the law for once! Oh, heck yeah, build those toll lanes!

(Note: it is possible that the rich will just hire drivers and make them speed and be responsible for the fines. This should be made illegal and punished with lots of massive fines. Fines only: We don’t want to put rich people in jail, after all.  Oh, and the employees can sue the employers, of course, under existing law.)

Of course, some may argue that a system like this can’t possibly work. I understand that concern. As a North County resident without a transponder, I’m willing to see it tested on the 91, if that would help. (After all, we all care that people not break the law, right? Remember all the fuss about camping in public?) And if this leads people to decide that maybe the 91 toll lanes should become free HOV lanes and help reduce one of the most massive headaches in Orange County — that’s fine too

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About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)