In L.A. Beware of Baxter Street's 32% Grade!

November 30, -0001 Tom Berg

<p><strong>Whoa -- how'd you like to descend this hill with bad brakes? </strong><em>Images: Screen captures from CBS Morning News.</em></p>

Yikes! A 32% grade in the midst of a city? That’s what Baxter Street in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles is said to be.

One section begins and ends abruptly, causing faint-of-heart drivers who’ve never been on it to panic upon encountering a blind apex. Sometimes they roll backwards downgrade, coming to grief and damaging neighbors' shrubs, planters and other property items, according to local media and a CBS News report last week.

<p><strong>Drivers are blind for a few moments as they crest the apex at the top of this hill. Is it the edge of the earth?</strong></p>

Baxter is actually composed of a series of up- and downgrades – your basic roller coaster profile. And it’s not only steep but increasingly well-traveled during rush hours, due to its listing as an alternative commuter route by Waze, the smart phone traffic-assist app. Evidently Waze’s programming looks at street maps but not topographical charts, thus does not see the hilly terrain. That makes it not so smart.

<p><strong>This low-slung beverage trailer barely scraped its way over the apex. Driver was probably using this route to bypass traffic backup on a more sane set of streets.</strong></p>

It’s not just cars that blunder up and down Baxter, but also stretch limos and long buses and trucks -- like this beer-delivery tractor-trailer, which almost hung up on the apex. It made it, as did a long rental truck – barely (think of the strain on their powertrains!). Other vehicles in recent months have gotten high-centered there, though, and had to be towed off.

<p><strong>Rental truck got over the apex.&nbsp;Its driver, like others new to Baxter Street, must've been surprised by the series of hills.&nbsp;</strong></p>

This is another reason for drivers of trucks and other large and heavy vehicles to avoid using navigation aids not meant for them, especially when truck-specific products are available.

Residents have complained to city officials about the situation and transportation staffers are debating what to do about the onslaught of traffic and the real and present danger. CBS asked Waze if it would change its by-ways, so to speak. Maybe it has delisted Baxter by now.

Meanwhile, here’s a YouTube video for your viewing amusement.


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