Death and Destruction: My Commute From Work This Morning. Story and Photos

"At least two people died and 10 were injured in a fiery multi-vehicle crash in an Interstate 5 tunnel south of Santa Clarita late Friday, closing the freeway in both directions until at least Tuesday as authorities try to determine whether the main roadway suffered structural damage."

I work on a CBS TV series. We began filming at 10:30 a.m on Friday morning at The College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, and were still working when reports came in after midnight about this accident. The producer stopped filming to announce that all routes out of the area were closed or clogged and not moving.He suggested the entire crew and cast stay at local hotels at the company's expense and that we try to get home later in the day. ( Ironically, I was in the middle of reading "Divorce your Car!" by Katie Alvord and discussing it with someone when the announcement came in.)

Some crew members opted to go over 100 miles out of their way , bypassing the chaos by driving all the way to Ventura and loop back again via the 101.

Since we were starting the work day during peak traffic time in Southern Cal, I stayed at a hotel the night before near our studio so I could hitch a ride with the Teamster who hauls my equipment, sparing myself the stress and aggravation of driving in So Cal.

My intrepid driver decided to skip the hotel offer, so I had to go back with him, since my car was at the studio. Now it was 3:00 a.m. We took the Old Road that parallels
I-5. At one point we passed the entrance to the tunnel, and saw several of the destroyed trucks strewn about that had been frantically towed out as rescuers were trying to get in.

All the alternate routes were clogged and barely moving. There were many accidents on the alternate routes as people suddenly U-turned in frustration smacking into other cars. One driver next to us fell asleep and rear ended the car in front of him. The entire trip was madness. We got back so late in the morning that I just stayed at the studio and slept there all day, not getting home until after 5:00 P.M. tonight.

When I was twelve years old I lost my wonderful 19 year old cousin, Patty, who was the golden girl of our extended family. She was leaving school, on her way from Camden to her night job in Philly, when she was sideswiped and pushed into oncoming traffic at the top of the Walt Whitman Bridge. She collided head on with an oil delivery truck and was killed instantly. The oil trucks broken hoses filled her car with heating oil. My aunt Vic had to go to the funeral parlor and shampoo her hair several times, since the funeral director could not get her hair to set right because of the oil. My aunt wouldn't give up until Patty's hair was set beautiful for the viewing. My aunt died from all this stress a few months later.

Patty's commute was unnecessary. She could have taken the subway. But she was still a kid, what did she know? But that is my point: as the dialogue swirling around Urban Design / New Urbanism begins to encompass seemingly peripheral issues like "Green," and "Community," the more the transportation component is disseminated and embraced, the more lives that will be saved and sadness lessened, since virtually all of us has lost at least one loved one to the road.


Crews will work through the night to finish shoring up the tunnel where Friday's crash occurred. Northbound lanes may open by tomorrow evening. Metrolink advises commuters to switch from cars to rail and to wear comfortable shoes and clothes, bring a book and be ready for long waits, even though extra cars and trains have been added for Monday's commute to L.A. :,0,4243752.story?c...


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