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In Plain View: The (Re)making of a freeway


It’s not much of a secret that the renovations to the San Diego Freeway (I-405) in these parts have snarled traffic way beyond the gridlock that it used to be. Officially, the freeway is being widened and modernized. In reality, the construction zone has created the world’s largest parking lot.

I happened to be mailing some letters at the post office when I caught a spot where some of the freeway work was visible. (Ordinarily, the best vantage point on the construction would have a steering wheel and a rear-view mirror obstructing the view.)

Up close, the work is an interesting—at least a visually interesting—mix of wood, steel, and cement. The elements are amalgamated in ways you wouldn’t expect—or least I didn’t expect.

I wasn’t expecting the diversity of shapes and textures of the building materials, but that’s probably because I haven’t looked all that closely in the past at the construction of an interstate highway.

The image that struck me as odd: this project has been going on so long now that the temporary parts have rusted over. I’m guessing there will be a lot more rust before the traffic again moves smoothly on the 405.

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  • Sue Luttner December 12, 2012, 12:57 pm

    Thank you, Paul. I’ve always marveled at the ribbons of concrete that tie together and stretch over the freeways and the surface streets. Now I know a little more about how they do it. Usually I’m traveling much too fast, even if I’m not driving.