Inside Seven
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With a dramatic backdrop of the I-5/SR-14 interchange, Jarrod DeGonia (right), representing Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, presents District Director Douglas R. Failing with a certificate of congratulations at the groundbreaking ceremony.

by  Jeanne Bonfilio
Issue Date: 09/2008

More gridlock relief is on the way as a groundbreaking ceremony celebrates new carpool lanes and direct connector.

Overlooking a dramatic view high above the Golden State Freeway (I-5)/Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14) interchange in Sylmar, executives from Caltrans District 7, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), other officials and guests celebrated the beginning of another major freeway transportation improvement project at a groundbreaking ceremony August 18. The new improvement project will construct High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), or carpool lanes, and a new, two-lane elevated $161-million HOV "direct connector" at the I-5/SR-14 interchange, which will allow motorists driving in the HOV lanes to make a freeway-to-freeway transfer without leaving the carpool lane.

“This project is another step toward that seamless transportation system we have all been working toward,” said Douglas R. Failing, District 7 Director and Master of Ceremonies at the celebration. “These transportation improvements and many others just like them across the state, are evidence of Caltrans’ mission to improve mobility across California. This project will help to relieve congestion, improve traffic flow, enhance safety and improve traffic operations of both freeways at the I-5/14 Interchange.” This is the third HOV direct connector in Los Angeles County – the other two are located at the SR-57/SR-60 interchange and at the I-105/I-110 interchange. The others are located at the I-105/I-110 interchange and at the SR-57/SR-60 interchange.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to improve traffic flow at this critical intersection of two major freeways,” added Metro Director and Glendale City Council Member Ara Najarian, a guest speaker. “This is definitely a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Metro Board to implement solutions to address the transportation needs of North County residents and commuters.” Metro, Los Angeles County's transportation planner, plans to invest $4.6 billion by 2030 to close gaps in the carpool system, improve congested freeway interchanges, build carpool lane connectors and manage freeway incidents.

Other speakers included Jarrod DeGonia, representing Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, 38th District, who also presented District Director Failing with a special certificate of congratulations; and Captain Mark Odle, California Highway Patrol, Newhall Division. Mayor Bob Keller, City of Santa Clarita was also among those in attendance.

Some 357,000 commuters use the I-5/SR-14 interchange every day. Carpool lanes save carpoolers about one minute per mile. Caltrans District 7 has 485 carpool lane miles – the most in the entire state. And California has about 40% of the nation’s total HOV lane miles. Some 750,000 people use carpool lanes every day in Los Angeles County alone. This project will also aid in goods movement throughout the I-5 corridor, which many consider the "backbone" of the California Highway System. Interstate 5 is a vital transportation corridor between Northern and Southern California.

After the speeches, speakers and special guests gathered with gold shovels for a "mock groundbreaking." Afterward, refreshments were enjoyed by one and all as a special treat provided by contractors MCM Construction Company and Security Paving Company.

Preliminary work on this new interchange improvement project began in July, 2008. Work is estimated to complete in the fall of 2012.

Reporter Jerry Barios from the Newhall Signal, gets the latest information for her story on this transportation improvement project from District Director Douglas R. Failing. An Improving Your Drive on Interstate 5 and the Antelope Valley Freeway banner, and special gold shovels, signify that more congestion relief is on the way.