June 30, 2012
Help On the Way!
Truck Lanes Coming Soon!
The Interstate 5 Gateway Improvement Project Is Transitioning from Concept to Reality: Carpool Lanes Are Being Designed and the Truck Lanes Are Scheduled to Start Construction Later This Year.
By Tim Whyte
It’s a model of public-private, multi-agency cooperation, and later this year, you’ll see tangible signs of it coming to fruition: The Interstate 5 Los Angeles-Santa Clarita Improvement Project is scheduled to begin construction.
“This doesn’t mark the end of our journey,” said Tom DiPrima, president of the Golden State Gateway Coalition. “However, we have reached several key milestones in the evolution of this important improvement to one of our nation’s most crucial transportation corridors.”
• The Phase 1 truck lanes project has its funding in place and has been put out for construction bids.
• Construction on Phase 1 is now scheduled to start later this year.
• The carpool lanes (high occupancy vehicle lanes) portion of the project is being designed.
The first phase of the project will consist of 4 miles of new truck climbing lanes in both directions north of the I-5 interchange with State Route 14. Construction bids are being accepted for this phase of the project, which is scheduled to start construction later this year, with completion expected in late 2013.
The second phase, consisting primarily of much-needed carpool lanes between Parker Road and the Newhall Pass, is being designed now and is expected to be ready to begin construction in 2014.
“All of the partners on this project are doing a tremendous job of bringing it to fruition,” DiPrima said. “We’re especially grateful to Caltrans and Metro for their support, and for recognizing its importance to the entire region.”
Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) is the lead agency for the project, and has been working with the support and cooperation of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The last significant pre-construction hurdle for Phase 1 was cleared in June when the California Transportation Commission authorized $53.6 million in funds for the project from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP).
The project has also received $56 million in funding support through Metro from Measure R, which was approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2008 to provide funding for transportation improvement projects countywide.
Federal leaders have played important roles, too: U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon led the effort to secure a $1.6 million allotment from SAFETEA-LU, the national surface transportation authorization bill, in 2005, and also a $750,000 allocation in the 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act.
“It’s truly been a team effort to bring us to this point,” said Victor Lindenheim, executive director of the Golden State Gateway Coalition, which was formed in 2002 to marshal public and private support for improvements to the I-5 “Gateway” in northern Los Angeles County. “It’s especially gratifying to see everyone’s hard work paying off, and to know the I-5 improvement project will soon start paying dividends for everyone who relies on I-5.”
The highly anticipated project is expected to directly create more than 6,000 jobs, with additional indirect benefits to the regional job market. Also among the project benefits are improved safety, reduced traffic congestion and smoother movement of goods in and out of the greater Los Angeles area.
“The truck lanes in particular will provide a noticeable benefit to every commuter who has to travel between the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Fernando Valley each day,” Lindenheim said. “Whether your commute takes you northbound or southbound, you know the Newhall Pass can be a major bottleneck for truck traffic. The Phase 1 truck lanes will alleviate that truck back-up that clogs the traffic lanes in both directions.”
It’s estimated that more than 19,000 trucks travel on I-5 in northern Los Angeles County every day.
“Obviously, that’s a lot of truck traffic,” Lindenheim said. “And now that this project is gearing up for construction, motorists will soon see very real, very tangible evidence that help is on the way, and not one commute too soon.”