A Clockwork Orange

Posted Oct. 28, 3:25 p.m.

It's interesting that this commentary should pop up in the (San Diego) North County Californian; Clockwork just had a view-changing epiphany last weekend about this very issue.

But first, let‚€™s back up to the commentary.

Californian columnist Mark Mush wrote about a coalition of 19 environmental groups that recently sent a letter to the Riverside County Transportation Commission criticizing plans for the improvements of roads that take drivers to Orange County (or, looking at it another way, that take Orange County drivers to Riverside County, which was what Clockwork was doing when we had that epiphany. You might say an epiphany orchestra was blasting in our head).
Put up a parking lot.
Anyway, the greenies' letter strongly condemned a proposal to bore a tunnel through a mountain so the I-15 can connect to Highway 241 in Irvine -- a proposal that Mush backed in a previous column.

(By the way, we did laugh when we read this line in Mush's latest column, which is a reaction to the enviros' fears about the number of trees that would be downed to build the tunnel: "As to the 19-page letter sent by the environmentalists, I would ask them how many trees had to be cut down to write their useless letter." Um, fewer than 1? Or hundreds or thousands fewer than would be cut down for a tunnel. Okay, the next line struck us, too: "What everybody truly needs to understand is that to the people of the left there is no solution that can be brought forth that will satisfy their wants. If the only form of transportation available was walking, the environuts would still find something to complain about." Whatever, dude. But must one be a "person of the left" to oppose the tunnel? I believe the Irvine Co. is, or at least was at one point, opposed to the tunnel, urging officials to explore double-stacking freeway lanes, and we'd wager the mega-developer is about as far from the left as one can get.)

This Clockwork item isn't about Mark Mush or his views, which he's perfectly entitled to have, hold and forever drag back into his cave, as long as we both shall live. No, this is about (sound the car horns!) CLOCKWORK'S EPIPHANY!

Now, regular readers of this space, all two of you, know how often we've blasted Orange County transportation officials about that permanent parking lot, that blatant example of de-evolutionary planning, that majorly, majorly fucked-up mess known as the 91 freeway, which is the OC-Riverside County route feeding the I-15. Usually, our ire is raised after taking that particular stretch of making-us-see-red asphalt, and our ensuing vitriol is usually directed at the 91's OC-only limo-lanes, which any driver who regularly drives the 91 knows, only compounds the traffic nightmare, especially right where the limo lanes end at the Riverside border. In beating up OC traffic honchos over this majorly, majorly fucked-up mess, we've gone as far as cheering on Riverside County's attempts to sue the beejesus outta OC to get something done about all this.

But as we were just reaching the Corona border on our way to Berdoo last weekend, we flashed back to our childhood, when all you could see on both sides of the 91 were green hills and the occasional billboard. Then we thought back to the home-building that gripped Corona -- what was it? Twenty years ago? 30? 35? Don't recall, seeing as how we were stoned through part of it. But nowadays, those same hills are covered with stucco as Corona became the place Orange Countians forced out of their birthplaces by high property values went to snag decent-sized family abodes.

Something else from our childhood came back to us: a parent or some older figure driving that same route and wondering aloud what someone would do about all the traffic that would result from all those houses swallowing up the hills.

The answer rhymes with "nothing."

Check that: the answer is "nothing."

Speaking of hills, Anaheim Hills and the Yorba Linda housing projects that continue to push toward the 91 also haven't helped ease traffic any, so Orange County should not escape all the blame. But our growth was relatively small compared to Corona, the towns mushrooming around the I-15 and further down the 91 into northwestern Riverside/southwestern San Bernardino counties, all of which chokes the 91 and 15.

And so, to all those Orange County transportation officials Clockwork has dissed over the years, we sincerely apologize. (We suggest you get that in writing. Check that: just did.) We will forever more direct our blame at those former cow towns that created the homes that created the drivers that have created the cars that have created the massive parking lots known as "Riverside County freeways." Failing to account for all that goddamned traffic from the get-go shows they've gotta plug the holes in their heads before boring a new one into a mountain.

Surely you've followed the dust-up over New York Times‚€™ reporter Judith Miller -- whose career at The Newspaper of Bush Administration Record may be over by the time you snooze through this.

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