Navigation apps create 'chaos' on 1 of LA's steepest streets

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Drivers are always looking for shortcuts and thanks to navigation apps like Waze, they're easier to find. But Baxter Street in Echo Park wasn't designed for gridlock. (KABC)

Drivers are always looking for shortcuts and thanks to navigation apps like Waze, they're easier to find. But Baxter Street in Echo Park wasn't designed for gridlock.

"I realize that traffic is difficult. We're between downtown L.A. and Hollywood. But, this is not a shortcut. This is a very dangerous situation," said Norma Newman, who lives on Baxter Street.

It's dangerous because Baxter is one of the steepest streets in LA. There is a 25 percent grade on one side, 35 percent on the other. In the last year, apps like Waze have brought drivers through this once quiet neighborhood.

"Rush hour traffic from 4 to 7, we can't even get out of the driveway. The steep slope of the hill and the street and the slipperiness, we wind up with cars in our front yard like every week," said Mark Stuplin, who also lives on Baxter Street.

When it rained last month, a car slid backward and ended up in Mark Stuplin's front yard. Cars often get stuck at the top. The steepness of the street has even started attracting tourists.

"We literally just sit on the front porch with a glass of wine and watch the chaos unfold. It's better than Netflix," said Stuplin.

The increase in traffic and accidents on Baxter has gotten the attention of Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell and LADOT, who held a neighborhood meeting last week. Officials are discussing making the street one way. Residents have also talked about turning one end of the street into a cul-de-sac, which would prevent drivers from using it as a shortcut.

In a statement, LADOT said they're "currently working with Waze to identify how to keep motorists safe during navigation and best address various roadway conditions like closed roadways, dead ends, turn restrictions and physical characteristics."
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