COMING SOON TO A FREEWAY NEAR YOU....
District 7 gives media a sneak peak at future improvement projects in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
It was a premier worthy of Hollywood when District 7 gave an “advanced screening” of upcoming major projects to the media at an event here on July 16.
Well, even if it was more Conference Room A than Kodak Theater, there were touches of movieland in the Caltrans Roadshow: posters of coming attractions; a banner design featuring red velvet curtains; and lots of movie industry vernacular sprinkled throughout the presentation.
The purpose of the event was to make the media aware of the major congestion relief and mobility improvement projects that will go to construction within the next few years as a result of increased funding from Prop 1B (Governor Schwarzenegger’s funding program).
District Director Doug Failing was the main presenter. Before he spoke, Deputy District Director of Operations Frank Quon discussed managing traffic with Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), such as Adaptive Signal Controls, which allow Caltrans to automatically adjust signal timing based upon real time traffic flow. As freeway capacity diminishes, traffic management technology will increasingly be looked at to assist in reducing congestion, Quon said.
Maintenance Deputy Dan Freeman’s topic was maintaining the highway system and he spoke about various practices in place to keep the system in the best possible working order, such as crack sealing, pothole repairs and cleaning drainage systems. He informed them about all the jobs performed by Maintenance workers and invited the media to ride along with the crews to see the enormous job Caltrans faces in maintaining the freeway system.
Director Failing began his presentation by mentioning the Corridor Mobility Improvement Account, or CMIA. The advantage of the corridor approach is that it allows the Department to take the needs and issues of an entire area into consideration when developing a project.
After discussing aspects of the CMIA, Failing said, “What this all comes down to, and how the CMIA helps Caltrans to fulfill its contract with California taxpayers, is by emphasizing accountability.”
Projects, displayed on a large Power Point map, were discussed in order of when they were going to construction. The first mentioned were improvements to the Pearblossom Highway (Highway 138) Corridor. The stretch of highway from Avenue T in the City of Palmdale to Highway 18 in the town of Llano will be widened from two to four lanes. This work is divided into phases, one of which will start this winter.
Next to be discussed was the Long Beach Freeway (I-710) corridor, where a pavement rehabilitation project is to begin soon. The project covers nine miles in the cities of Long Beach, Carson, Compton, Paramount, Lynwood and South Gate, including shoulder reconstruction, metal guardrail replacement, and widening at two bridges.
“The significance of this project is major,” Failing said, “because we are replacing the existing pavement with Long Life Pavement that represents the latest in pavement technology.” Long Life pavement will last twice as long as other pavement and requires much less frequent maintenance, which reduces Maintenance personnel’s exposure to road hazards.
Two more projects beginning within the 2007/2009 timeframe are the Golden State Freeway (I-5)/Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14) Direct High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) connector and the I-5 Carmenita Road Interchange improvement project in the cities of Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk. The direct HOV connector will improve overall operations of the freeway by reducing merging maneuvers and the Carmenita Interchange project is the first phase of the I-5 corridor improvement project and will accommodate the planned future widening of I-5 from the Orange County Line to the San Gabriel Freeway (I-605).
In spring 2009, construction will begin on an I-5 HOV lane from the Hollywood Freeway (SR 170) to the Ventura Freeway (SR 134). “This is an important element of our plans for the I-5 corridor,” Failing told the group.
In Ventura County, two projects are planned. Beginning late 2007/early 2008, an eastbound on-ramp and westbound off-ramp will be constructed at Rocky Peak Road on the Simi Valley Freeway (SR 118) in Simi Valley. Looking ahead to 2011, HOV lanes will be added in each direction of the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Other projects discussed include:
• Construction of an HOV lane on the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) in each direction from I-605 to the Orange Freeway (SR 57). The first phase of this project, from I-605 to Puente Avenue, will begin in fall 2008. When all phases are completed, the HOV lane on I-10 will be continuous from Downtown Los Angeles to I-15 in San Bernardino County.
• Construction of an HOV lane on the northbound San Diego Freeway (I-405) from the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to U.S. 101, scheduled to begin in 2009. When this project is completed, there will be a continuous HOV lane on I-405 from the San Fernando Valley to Orange County.
• Replacement of the Schuyler Heim Bridge on the Terminal Island Freeway (Route 47), beginning in fall 2009.
• Construction of a direct HOV connector from southbound I-605 to eastbound I-10, to begin in 2011.
“A few key themes emerge from this project list: Connectivity, HOV lanes, corridor management and infrastructure preservation,” Failing said. “Caltrans plans to do everything possible to provide California taxpayers with the transportation system they want and deserve.”
In keeping with the Hollywood theme, each reporter was given some “swag” (gifts for celebrities)—a binder filled with project factsheets, a project map and future story ideas.