Leaders, Commuters Celebrate Grand Opening of Carpool Lanes South of Highway 14 

A measure of relief for carpoolers traveling to and from the Santa Clarita Valley has arrived two months ahead of schedule. The California Department of Transportation recently wrapped up construction of 6.2 miles of carpool lanes on Interstate 5 between the 118 Freeway and Highway 14.

“It is these kinds of projects … that are important not only to improve mobility in California, but to improving our quality of life,” Caltrans Director Will Kempton said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new lanes on April 4. 

“These new (high occupancy vehicle) lanes will save carpoolers about an hour per week carpooling and that is time they can spend with their families doing other things.”

The lanes, on the north- and southbound sides of the freeway, are the first carpool lanes on the I-5 in Los Angeles County.

Construction on the $41.6 million project, which began in May 2005, was completed in April.

The project was a joint effort between Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The latest stretch of carpool lanes on the I-5 is the first in a series. The next set of carpool lanes will be built on the I-5 from the 118 Freeway to the 170 Freeway and then on the 170 to the 134 Freeway. These two projects are expected to be completed by 2012.

“These projects play a crucial role in improving mobility for our entire region,” said Pam O’Connor, Metro board chair and Santa Monica City Council member. “That is why highway improvements are a major component in Metro’s long-range transportation plan.”

By 2030, Metro plans to spend $4.6 billion to expand carpool lanes, improve congested freeway interchanges, build carpool lane connectors and manage freeway incidents. Officials at the ribbon-cutting said the carpool lanes will encourage ridesharing, reduce congestion and improve air quality.

“This carpool lane project you are seeing today of course may be the first on I-5 in L.A. County, but it is certainly not the last,” said Victor Lindenheim, executive director of the Golden State Gateway Coalition. 

This project is just one step in the overall proposed improvement of I-5 in northern Los Angeles County. Future plans also include new truck lanes and carpool lanes on I-5 between Calgrove Boulevard and Castaic. The projects would cost an estimated $507 million.

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth said improvements to the I-5 will also help the movement of goods and services through the I-5 corridor, which connects Northern and Southern California.

“As someone who travels this stretch of road regularly … having this stretch open up is really going to have a great benefit,” Smyth said.

In addition to the I-5 carpool lanes, sound walls will be constructed in various locations along the project area to decrease noise levels. Work on the walls is expected to begin this summer.