Lacter/oct.edit/`1stjc/mike2nd Hd– Standing Still Anyone who lives and works in the San Fernando Valley is accustomed to nasty traffic snarls, but the last few weeks have been especially cruel and unusual. On the morning of Sept. 24, as remnants of Tropical Storm Nora drifted into Southern California, Valley freeways and roadways became virtual parking lots. Normal commutes of 30 to 45 minutes turned into two or three-hour ordeals an unnerving taste of what may be in store during the much-awaited El Ni & #324;o winter. Of course, traffic had been a bear well before that rainy Wednesday. On even an average weekday morning, all points leading in or out of the 405-101 interchange (as well as the adjacent shortcuts) are so clogged with cars that it’s a wonder anyone gets anywhere. As for the freeways, the San Diego (405)/Ventura (101) interchange averages 536,500 vehicles a day, a 3.5 percent increase from 1991. For the same time period, the Glendale (134)/Ventura (101) junction has seen an 8.3 percent jump in traffic. Some of the recent congestion is seasonal, including the annual back-to-school tie-ups caused by parents unable to make carpool arrangements. (If past form prevails, schedules will be adjusted and traffic should improve … just in time for the holiday season rush.) But horrendous traffic is spurred by more than bad weather and seasons. A study prepared for state Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, projects that East-West Valley rush-hour trips will eventually average 10 miles per hour, slowing from the current 21 mph. Even allowing for a miscalculation say 16 mph instead of 10 it’s a scary prospect. And the causes are not very mysterious. To live and work in L.A. generally involves driving in L.A. Putting aside the usual cultural stereotypes, the town is simply too spread out to depend on any mode of transit other than your own four wheels. Ten or 15 years ago, that reality could have been addressed head-on by politicians and community leaders; instead, billions were squandered on the misguided notion that all roads would lead to underground rail. With the subway system fast becoming an L.A. joke, it’s time to assess the area’s transportation alternatives. And, sorry to say, the most obvious answer additional freeway lanes is, in many cases, no longer affordable or even practical. That leaves the less obvious possibilities, such as incentives for businesses that stagger their work shifts (10 to 7 instead of 8 to 5, as an example); a greater use of satellite offices (keeping those Valley commuters crawling over the hill each morning on this side of Mulholland); and opening up the parking lanes of major Valley thoroughfares during rush hour periods. Even more novel ideas should be considered, including rush-hour toll charges, turning certain canyon roads into all-diamond (carpool only) roadways, and a light-rail system running east-west across the Valley. Of course, no transportation alternative stands much chance of success without the willingness of Angelenos to consider other ways of getting from here to there. So far, the tendency has been more to grouse than to act.