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A crowd of area residents, Caltrans employees, elected officials and representatives from Flatiron West, Inc. the contractor on the project, gathered to listen to the speakers and presenters.

Construction begins on I-10 HOV in Baldwin Park
by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 12/2009

The 2006 Proposition 1B transportation bond delivers on its commitment to rebuild California’s infrastructure

At a groundbreaking event held on November 3 in a Baldwin Park parking lot adjacent to the Guadalajara Grill Restaurant, Caltrans District 7 announced the start of construction to add 2.2 miles of new carpool lanes, or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, in each direction on the San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) from the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) to Puente Avenue.  (View a video clip)

This is the first of three projects that, upon completion, will offer one continuous HOV lane stretching nearly 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles to San Bernardino County, including soundwall and retaining wall work, reconstructing a pedestrian overpass at Athol Street, and widening the Baldwin Park Boulevard and Francisquito Avenue bridges.

The $175-million project is expected to complete in 2012. This project is funded through state and federal resources including $66 million from Proposition 1B, the 2006 transportation bond, which voters passed to help rebuild California infrastructure.

“When California voters approved Proposition 1B, they wanted action, and we are delivering that action,” said Governor Schwarzenegger in a news release announcing the groundbreaking. “This project will not only help relieve the traffic congestion that clogs our Los Angeles freeways – it will help create jobs and stimulate California’s economy right when we need it the most.”

I-10 is a key commute and goods movement corridor linking Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire. More than 240,000 vehicles daily travel this section of I-10 where the new carpool lanes will be built. HOV lanes can carry about 1,300 vehicles or 3,300 persons per hour during peak traffic times, saving motorists one minute per mile on average. For a daily commuter, this could mean significant time savings.

“The work that Caltrans does touches people’s lives everyday,” said Raja Mitwasi, Caltrans Chief Deputy District Director. “This is a vital route in the Los Angeles County freeway system as evidenced by the traffic volumes on I-10 and numerous on-going and programmed transportation improvement plans.”

Among the officials present at the groundbreaking event were: Manuel Lozano, Mayor, Baldwin Park; Ara Najarian, Chair, Metro Board of Directors; Art Leahy, Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro); Captain Marc Shaw, California Highway Patrol (CHP); Monica Garcia, Mayor Pro Tem of Baldwin Park; Marlen Garcia, Baldwin Park Councilmember; Nicholas Conway, San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG); John Fasana, Metro Board member; Tom Bachman, Mayor, West Covina; and field representatives from the offices of Assemblymember Mike Eng; Congressmember Judy Chu and Senator Gloria Romero.

“A successful project is one that is safe,” said CHP Assistant Chief, Craig Klein, Southern Division, reminding the public to always drive safely, especially during freeway construction.

Caltrans staff involved in the construction project are: Sam Ekrami, area manager; Jagdish Patel, construction senior; Greg Balinghasay, resident engineer; Angel Aguilar, assistant resident engineer and Mehdi Salehinik, project manager. The contractor is Flatiron West of San Marcos, California.

On-going and planned improvements for I-10 in Los Angeles County include:
• Pavement restoration on I-10 from the I-5 separation to I-605. This $165 million project began this year and is scheduled to complete spring, 2011.
• The next two phases of the I-10 HOV plan, estimated at $385 million, will extend the carpool lane from Puente Avenue to Citrus Street in West Covina; then to State Route 57 near Pomona. These two projects are programmed to begin in late 2011 and early 2012.
• The I-10/I-605 Interchange Improvement Project is scheduled to begin 2012. This design-build project, estimated at $79 million, will construct a direct connector interchange from southbound I-605 to eastbound I-10.

Monica Aleman, Field Representative for Assemblymember Mike Eng, presents a certificate of appreciation to commemorate the I-10 HOV lane project groundbreaking. From left to right:  Ali El-Zaynab, Structures; Ghassan Dagher, Office Chief, Construction; Sherif Botros, Resident Engineer; Jagdish Patel, Senior Resident Engineer; Mehdi Salehinik, Project Manager; Peter Koury, Construction; Wahib Jreij, Traffic Operations; Rick Finken, Flatiron West; and Sean Tarp, Project Manager, Flatiron West Inc. Deputy District Director of External Affairs and Master of Ceremonies Deborah Robertson addresses the crowd as the event speakers look on.