With more than 90% of the country under stay-at-home orders, the streets have been eerily quiet. Of course, there is still the traffic of essential workers, and the trips to the grocery store and pharmacy, but traffic is demonstrably low right now.
Take Los Angeles, for example, a city with notoriously bad traffic jams: they’re currently seeing 60% less traffic on the freeways than they did before the shelter-in-place orders. And cities, seeing that construction workers are still considered essential, are making good use of the down time. On March 31st, the Beverly Hills City Council closed a section of Wilshire Boulevard to allow the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to expedite pile installation and the construction of a new street deck on Phase Two of the LA Metro’s Purple Line.
For years, there have been obstacles in the way of this $2.4 billion construction project, including lawsuits and opposition from residents. But local leaders saw this as their moment to take decisive action: The decision “will help us minimize future construction impacts to local businesses as they struggle to overcome the impacts of the Covid-19 health crisis,” Dave Sotero, the communications manager for L.A. Metro, said in a statement.
Other cities are following suit. Reno, Nevada, is using the shut down in traffic to work on the Virginia Street Bus RAPID Transit Extension Project, a $87 million improvement to pedestrian traffic in the city’s center.
Similar roadwork is happening in Indiana, Florida, New Jersey, and Washington DC.