Metro Plan Puts I-5 HOV Lanes on Fast Track

Phase 2 of North Los Angeles County I-5 Improvement Project Could Break Ground as soon as 2019

By Tim Whyte

Interchange Editor

The expenditure plan produced by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) places several northern L.A. County projects near the top of its priority list, including the second phase of the Interstate 5 North Los Angeles County Gateway Improvement Project.

“We’re very pleased with the consideration given to the I-5 capacity improvement project in Metro’s plan,” says Tom DiPrima, chairman of the Golden State Gateway Coalition, which has been working for the past dozen years, in concert with Metro and Caltrans, to help bring capacity improvements to the crucial stretch of I-5 in northern Los Angeles County.

“It helps that this project is progressing steadily toward being ‘shovel-ready,’ with the completion of the Phase 1 truck lanes in late-2014 and the awarding last month of the design contract for the Phase 2 high occupancy vehicle lanes,” DiPrima added. (See related story, page 3.)

Under the Metro board-approved plan, groundbreaking could occur for the Phase 2 HOV lanes as soon as 2019.

The Metro board approved the plan June 23 and it is slated to go to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors this summer. The supervisors are expected to review the expenditure plan and consider whether to place a measure on the November ballot that would provide long-term funding for it by indefinitely extending and expanding the Measure R half-cent sales tax program.

If the measure receives approval of two-thirds of L.A. County’s voters, the Metro plan will move forward and the I-5 Gateway project will be expedited, receiving an estimated $240 million from the half-cent sales tax. The remainder of the $784 million cost would be derived from other funding sources.

Victor Lindenheim, executive director of the Gateway Coalition, said the plan seems favorable not only for the Gateway project, but also for northern L.A. County in general.

“The I-5 project is of course our coalition’s highest priority, and we’ve worked long and hard to help Metro and Caltrans bring it to fruition,” Lindenheim said. “If all the pieces come together, we’re looking at getting the I-5 project completed as much as two decades sooner than it could have been done otherwise, which will go great lengths to reduce congestion, improve goods movement and improve the quality of life for everyone who relies on I-5.”

Not only that, Lindenheim said, but also the plan calls for approximately $2 billion for local road and highway projects over the first 40 years of the proposed program. Transit services in our region, including Metrolink, will gain $588 million in new funds for improvement and maintenance, plus an additional percentage of the overall transit funds that will be designated for regional rail (Metrolink). 

And, the high desert corridor project — between Palmdale and Victorville — would gain $170 million for right-of-way acquisition in the plan’s first 15 years.

“The Gateway Coalition is supportive of Metro’s efforts, and we’re pleased to see northern L.A. County projects included near the top of the plan’s priorities,” Lindenheim said. “It’s cause for optimism, not only for our top-priority project on the I-5 corridor but also for transportation in the entire north county area.”