The L.A. freeway system should be one of the marvels of the modern world. As I spent some quality time sitting on the I-10 a few months ago, the magnitude of the system impressed me.
Think what happens on L.A.’s freeways every day. Millions of individual units travel to work, to the doctor’s office, to the grocery store and home largely without incident. They’re not required to follow a certain path. Rather, the system’s design allows them to take any route they can dream up.
It’s not surprising that there’s gridlock; it’s surprising that people get anywhere at all. Movement happens because we created this incredible system in which each highway connects to all the other highways and to the main artery roads that connect to all the surface streets. None of the streets got missed! None of them end in the middle of the block!
Last weekend, I drove past the San Diego docks, home to a collection of gigantic cranes for lifting containers on and off ships. These massive machines inspired the same thought as did sitting in traffic in L.A.—if we can create this, then surely we can create something better. Think of the years, probably lifetimes, of mental and physical work that people have poured into this infrastructure—the planning, the engineering, the sheer creativity. There didn’t used to be freeway systems, and now there are—look what we are capable of!
Whether these cars and machines are the answer to our woes or one giant mistake, they point to an encouraging truth: our potential is vast.