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A transportation boom will prevent logistical nightmares
One of the most legendary tales of the 1984 Olympics was that people were so afraid of getting trapped in one of LA’s famous traffic jams that everyone stayed home or left town, allowing athletes and spectators to zip around town on empty roads. Officials could scare Angelenos off the road again (remember Carmageddon?) but they likely won’t have to: LA is in the midst of a public transit renaissance, building out several critical rail lines faster than any other American city. An accelerated timeline would mean many of those major lines will be completed right around the time of the Olympics, including a rail connection and people mover to efficiently deliver riders to and from LAX (finally). The plan says it will deliver 80 percent of spectators by transit. I think that’s totally doable.
Sprawl actually works in LA’s favor
Speaking of traffic, that’s one of the reasons Boston residents were terrified of hosting the games. Boston’s proposal centered around walking and transit, and yes, everything would have technically been very close and convenient. But that’s actually problem when you look at how dense the city is. Imagine hundreds of thousands of people trying to move around such a limited geographical area—it’s destined to be claustrophobic. Los Angeles is about 400 square miles and the venues will be clustered into four major nodes, some of them 30 miles apart. There won’t be a particular part of the city that will be completely incapacitated due to crowds.
Generally, urbanists don’t have much good to say about the current state of mass transit in Los Angeles (except perhaps pining for the extensive streetcar system that disappeared decades ago) or its famous sprawl. Thus, it is interesting to see that it could work in the city’s favor for the Olympics. It may just have enough mass transit to relieve some of the traffic and the sprawl allows for multiple sites that don’t have overlapping footprints. It could lead to other issues such as possible negative effects on residents (as noted above, both Carmageddon and Carmageddon 2 were successful) and whether it is possible to have central Olympic facilities including an athlete’s village and central gathering site.
Think of the possible slogans: “We have the sprawl the Olympics need!” Or, “Police escorts along LA highways for all Olympic athletes!”