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1984 L.A. Olympic traffic miracle

1984 L.A. Olympic traffic miracle

Aug. 3, 1984: Traffic is light on the Harbor Freeway, left photo, next to the Los Angeles Coliseum at 8:03 a.m. on a Friday morning — right in the middle of rush hour. Light traffic was also found downtown, right, at 8:40 a.m. on the four-level freeway interchange.

The “Carmaggedon” closure of the 405 Freeway this weekend produced two days of light traffic. The 1984 Olympics had two weeks.

Officials in 1984 had predicted “Black Friday,” a day on which commuter traffic combined with track and field events at the Coliseum would produce total gridlock, only to be pleasantly surprised.

Times staff writer Ted Vollmer reported the next morning:

Years of warnings and intense preparations apparently paid off Friday as a predicted paralyzing combination of Olympic and commuter traffic failed to develop on the busiest day yet of the Games. Instead, drivers enjoyed another day of free-flowing freeway traffic across Southern California.

“Black Friday,” transportation officials smugly pointed out to reporters, had become “Good Friday.” Then, for the first time in more than a year, the experts uncrossed their fingers.

The driving public had apparently listened to the traffic congestion warnings and predictions. And the locals were not the only ones who noticed.

“Los Angeles hasn’t lived up to its reputation for traffic,” summed up Martha Orr of San Jose, who took a shuttle bus from Century City to the Coliseum Friday morning to watch the first day of Olympic track and field events ….

Traffic to Friday’s long slate of Olympic events at 19 venues had been expected to combine with normally heavy commuter traffic to produce freeway headaches. However, drivers cruised along nearly congestion-free freeways for the fifth consecutive day….

Aug. 2, 1984: Traffic is light at the downtown Los Angeles four-level freeway interchange at 8:35 a.m. on a Thursday morning — right in the middle of rush hour.  Credit: Penni Gladstone / Los Angeles Times

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