THE VENTURA FREEWAY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: A SYMBOL OF 21ST CENTURY TRANSPORTATION ENGINEERING
The VEN 101 Improvement Project completes, and everyone is celebrating!
Motorists have been reaping the benefits since it opened in mid-July, but for all the people who worked on and for it, the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) improvement project didn’t officially complete until its Grand Opening Ceremony on August 16.
The $100-million project involved widening U.S. 101 in each direction from three lanes to six lanes between Vineyard Avenue in the City of Oxnard and Johnson Drive in the City of Ventura. In addition, the seven-lane Santa Clara River Bridge was replaced with a single 12-vehicle lane bridge. Wagon Wheel Road was reconstructed, combining it with the new Santa Clara River Bridge, and the connectors from Oxnard Boulevard (Highway 1) to U.S. 101 were replaced with a new diamond-shaped interchange.
At the ceremony, the mood was jubilant and the theme was “A Bridge to the Future.” California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Director Will Kempton was the keynote speaker. He called the new bridge “a symbol of 21st Century transportation engineering.”
Some of the reasons:
• It is over 420,000 square feet--the equivalent of seven football fields;
• Supporting it are 93 concrete-filled steel shell piles as long as 120 feet each and driven 120 feet into the riverbed;
• More than 40,000 cubic yards of cement were used to construct the bridge, enough to fill 4,000 cement trucks.
“Caltrans expects the bridge to accommodate this growing region for decades to come,” Kempton said, adding that the Department and the community are getting “an excellent return on our investment.”
The combined project improvements will facilitate traffic flow between the cities of Ventura and Oxnard, provide increased traffic capacity, improve air quality and provide a more efficient and safer transition between Route 1 and U.S. 101.
“These improvements represent interagency partnership at its best,” said Kempton, explaining that the State and the Ventura County Transportation Commission provided funding for the bridge and the freeway widening, the City of Oxnard funded the interchange reconstruction and the City of Ventura accommodated five years of construction.
“Working together on projects such as this is the key to improving transportation in California,” Kempton added. “Despite the challenges of reducing congestion and improving mobility for a growing population, the Department has a plan, we have commitment and we have a talented and dedicated workforce.”
Other speakers included Senator Tom McClintock, Assemblymember Pedro Nava, Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long, City of Oxnard Mayor Dr. Thomas Holden, City of Ventura Mayor Carl Morehouse and Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) Chair Joe De Vito. District 7 Chief Deputy Raja Mitwasi was the Master of Ceremonies.
Before adjourning the speakers for the ribbon-cutting and inauguration of the bridge bike path, Kempton and Mitwasi surprised Ginger Gherardi, retiring director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission, with a plaque that read: “For your invaluable support and partnership with the California Department of Transportation and your exceptional commitment to improving transportation in Ventura County. While you will be greatly missed, your legacy of public service will remain for generations to come.”