Q. Maybe you can answer a question that’s been puzzling me for most of my 60-plus years. Who uses mid-level-octane gasoline, and why? I’ve never pumped any. I don’t know anybody who has ever pumped any, and I’ve never seen a stranger at a station pump any. Wouldn’t refining capacity be better served by producing only premium and regular gasoline? Who are these mysterious motorists out there who need this stuff to be sold in every gas station in America?

– Rick Birle, Lake Forest

A. Honk is not among them – except when he pushes the wrong button and pays more than he wanted to for petrol.

Older drivers will remember that way back in the day, decades ago, a typical pump offered leaded, unleaded and premium unleaded gas.

In the mid-1970s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began pushing to phase out leaded gas and so the three types were available until leaded was banned in 1996, when a typical pump was left with that extra vessel.

“As the pumps then had three dispensing units … one unit was converted to dispense a mid-grade gasoline that was blended at the gas station,” Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California, explained to Honk in an email.

In 2016, when the Auto Club conducted a study, it was determined that 70% of the passenger vehicles here in the states are geared for regular gasoline, 16% of them were supposed to use premium and 10% were made to drink the mid-grade gas. The remaining 4% deployed an alternative-energy source, such as electricity or diesel.

By the way, that same study came to the conclusion that motorists often used the more-expensive premium when it wasn’t needed – 270 million times in a year, to be somewhat exact.

Q. The Oso Parkway bridge that sits over where the 241 toll road connects with Los Patrones Parkway has been completed for months now. The connecting road, beneath the bridge, appears to be perfectly drivable, yet for some reason remains closed. Drivers in either direction must exit at Oso and then re-enter the route via ramps. Any idea why the connecting road under the bridge remains off limits? I suspect there is a good reason, I just can’t figure it out. Everything looks perfect.

– John Costigan, Coto de Caza

A. For nearly $40 million, Oso got a new bridge that is meant to increase traffic flow for various reasons and – Honk’s favorite part – includes a new sidewalk to increase safety for the students of nearby Tesoro High. Construction started in August 2018 and was to take about two years.

The 241’s southern tip is at Oso. When this last piece, the connecting roadway beneath the bridge, is opened, toll road users can just keep going south as the 241 becomes Los Patrones, while northbound traffic can hop onto the 241 or exit at Oso.

The opening up of that stretch so motorists don’t have to do such driving gymnastics is coming soon, John, with some touch-ups and/or final planning underway.

“Final preparations are being made for the opening,” said Kim Mohr, a spokeswoman for the 241 toll road. “The Oso Parkway bridge is set to open at the end of November (or the) beginning of December.”

Honkin’ fact: A driver who hasn’t slept in 24 hours is similar to a motorist with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10% – above the legal limit of 0.08%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not having caught a snooze in the last 18 hours is the same as driving at 0.05%.

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


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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