Might be ‘carpool lane’ to you, but the feds prefers ‘HOV lane’

Q. On the eastbound 22 Freeway they have sandblasted off all of the “CARPOOL ONLY” signs in the lane itself in favor of “HOV ONLY” or “HOV LANE” (or whatever it says). What gives – besides a waste of my money? The posted signs still say “CARPOOL ONLY.” My wife and I were wondering if there is now a difference. And what that difference might be. A trick to ticket folks who don’t know what HOV is?

– Rob Blunt, Cowan Heights

A. Bucket or pail? Sea or ocean? Phone or blower?

“HOV lane” stands for “high-occupancy vehicle lane,” same thing as a “carpool lane.”

That’s the feds for you.

“HOV lane” is what the Federal Highway Administration has preferred for years, and California must switch over, said Sheilah Fortenberry, a Caltrans spokeswoman for Orange County.

Have you noticed how the double-yellow lines have been going white in recent years? Same thing. The feds want people driving in states they are not familiar with to feel comfortable with the signage and markings and not come across too many differences.

New signs are on the way for the 22 and elsewhere, and more sandblasting is coming to other freeways, too. “Carpool,” as far as the state and Uncle Sam are concerned, is going the way of Volkswagen’s Thing, Ford’s Pinto and Chevy’s Vega.

As to what the switch is costing, Rob, Honk is trying to get a number and will update Honkland residents when he snags it.

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Q. Dear Honk: I know it’s a ways off, but the Olympics are coming to L.A. and there is not a lineal foot along our freeway sides and on- and off-ramps that is free of litter and/or weeds. Hello? Caltrans? What an eyesore for us and our visitors. Ironically, some of this litter comes from improperly covered trash trucks heading to the dumps. What can be done? Maybe shut down a half mile at a time and have a thousand volunteers comb the bushes? Why not? I’d be out there in a heartbeat! I wonder how many times we could fill the Rose Bowl?

– Bob Merz, Long Beach

A. Speaking of that glorious football venue: In 2020, according to state officials, Caltrans scooped up enough garbage to fill 81 Olympic-size pools.

The state is now spending $1.1 billion over three years to put a shine on the Golden State – $418 million of that to get rid of trash on streets and highways.

That additional cash will allow the collection of – not counting the 81 pools-worth of trash – enough garbage to fill three Rose Bowls, state officials say.

In addition, individuals and groups who want to help out can apply to pick up trash via the Adopt-A-Highway program at There are stipends; $30 million was set aside for this particular push.

Clean California, as this big effort is called, is 15 months into its three-year run.

Will the common motorist – such as Bob and Honk – notice any difference after the hundreds of millions of dollars are spent?

Honk and Bob hope so.

What if during Olympic years – no matter where the games are played – California’s freeways are shut down for 12 hours except for emergency vehicles and thousands and thousands of volunteers are handed gloves and guided by Caltrans workers and the agency’s orange trash trucks are filled up?

Your idea is solid, Bob. Sounds productive, fun and satisfying. Count Honk in.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

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