At the urging of the North County Transportation Coalition, on a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, the Metro board authorized and funded a study (currently in draft final form) to assess system performance of State Route 14. Starting in January, Caltrans executed the study, intending to identify the main bottlenecks impairing traffic flow on a 33-mile stretch of the freeway — from Interstate 5 to Pearblossom Highway/Angeles Crest Highway.
Roadway safety was the other motivating factor for the study: “A safety analysis was run in parallel with the operational analysis and concluded that the majority of bottlenecks, regardless of direction, resided in locations where the… …accident rates were greater than the statewide average. The majority of the freeway study limits consists of a fluctuating roadway geometry of three to two lanes. These lane reductions contribute to an increase in merge conflicts resulting in sideswipe and rear-end crashes; diversion points increase decision making, which also results in incidents.”
Six locations were identified (three northbound and three southbound) where lane additions to mixed-flow lane drop locations and supplemental bridge work could improve traffic flow, reducing congestion on an important, consistently congested rush-hour commuter route.
Total cost estimates for the three northbound SR 14 improvement projects range from $78 million to $105 million; total cost estimates for the three southbound improvements range from $126 million to $172 million. The proposed corrective measures are all within Santa Clarita city limits and Los Angeles County.
The Caltrans report summary concludes: “Through strategic partnership, the expectation is that NCTC, Caltrans and Metro work collectively to implement the identified projects to address critical north county transportation issues and promote a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability.”
The Gateway Coalition will continue to monitor and support this effort. Stay tuned.