The Olympics fixed LA’s traffic problem—can the 2028 games do it permanently?

Ask Agelenos for their most vivid memories of the 1984 Summer Olympics and they’ll likely all tell you the same thing: There was no traffic.

As locals stared down the date of the opening ceremonies with trepidation—their fears stoked by predictions of spectators abandoning their motionless cars on freeway off-ramps—everyone was so spooked about the games’ potential to create instant gridlock that they skipped town.

The narrative of thousands of natives fleeing their homes was the only possible explanation for why LA’s roads remained miraculously unclogged, even with the addition of more than 650,000 visiting athletes and spectators.

But that’s not what actually happened, says Wayne Wilson, retired vice president of education services at the LA84 Foundation, the nonprofit created by the endowment from the 1984 games.

“Contrary to popular belief, the number of cars remained about the same, but the flow of vehicles was dispersed over a wider range of hours,” he says.

By the end of the second week, congestion was still far below a normal August work week, but perhaps even more amazingly, the freeways were carrying 11 percent more vehicles.

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