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Getting There
2003-04-08 06:17
by Jon Weisman

As a native of Los Angeles and someone who has always lived there except for school, and as someone who has been driving to himself Dodger games for nearly 20 years, youÕll understand that it pains me on multiple levels to confront the rising difficulty of getting to Dodger Stadium.

The best news about Los Angeles in my lifetime is the improvement in air quality. No, itÕs still no great shakes, but compared to the 1970s, when on any given day recess might be canceled because of a smog alert, weÕre in much better shape.

This improvement has someone come despite what seems to be an exponential rise in traffic. As a child, I lived in Woodland Hills, about 25 miles from Dodger Stadium, and it would take about 45 minutes to get to the game if there were traffic. Now, I live closer - and it takes longer. In fact, even if I leave from where I work - less than 10 miles away from the park - I canÕt guarantee that IÕll make it to the Stadium in under half an hour. From home, 18 miles away, I now budget an hour and hope.

This is the case despite the development over two decades of principal routes, alternate routes, backup routes, soft underbelly routes, every possible path to the stadium you can imagine. Believe me, we are not neophytes when it comes to the trip to Dodger Stadium. But it almost never ceases to challenge.

Two Sunday mornings ago, in the spirit of never giving up the hunt, I left my house at 7 a.m. and drove to Chavez Ravine to see if I could uncover any more secret routes. (This was inspired by the fact that last season, stuck in traffic near Sunset and Elysian Park, we passed Kobe Bryant in his Ferrari - us going 5 mph, him going 4 mph - and yet when we parked, KobeÕs Ferrari was safely parked and he was safely inside the stadium . To this day, I still wonder if there is a Holy Grail pathway into the park.)

There are just so many damn cars. ItÕs incredible.

There is no reasonable public transportation alternative to Dodger Stadium. Yes, there are buses and now shuttles, but those buses and shuttles donÕt get to bypass the traffic. I can barely imagine IÕd be home from one game by bus before I had to be at work the next morning.

I mean to write a column sometime about the tired criticism of Dodger fans who arrive late and leave early. IÕll get into the topic more deeply, but let me just say this about the late arrivals. WeÕre trying to get there. We really are.

Monday, leaving at 11:30 a.m. for the game, it took us 10 minutes to go the first nine miles, and 35 minutes to go the last nine.

I was most frustrated by the fact that, after taking 15 minutes to cover 8,000 feet of the Santa Monica/Harbor Freeway interchange, I was able to make my way on the 110 northbound to the Academy Road entrance. This is officially the least accessed Dodger Stadium entryway.

Unfortunately, gridlock in the roadways inside Dodger Stadium backed up the right two lanes of the inbound Academy Road traffic. By the time I could get up the hill and into our parking lot, another 15 minutes had passed.

Leaving the game, I found that bollards and barricades had been set up that block the path out of the stadium we have been using for nearly 20 years. These are set up in a manner that would seem to ensure that traffic flow not out of the stadium parking lots, but back into them. I absolutely canÕt understand it. I wound around the barricades this time to go the way I wanted to go, but I donÕt know how much longer IÕll be able to get away with that.

I like to drive. I like being in my car. But I will tell you, nothing - not steroids, not Bud Selig - can ruin my experience with baseball more than how hard it is to get to a game. To have Dodger Stadium be so close and yet so far away - itÕs almost too real a metaphor for me to handle.

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