Caltrans Completes Freeway Widening in Simi Valley
A local commute connecting Los Angeles and Ventura County just became much easier.
(Place curser over photos and click to enlarge)
Caltrans District 7 and one of its transportation funding partners, the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC), held a ribbon cutting event on March 15 to announce the opening of one new lane on westbound Ronald Reagan Freeway (State Route 118) in Simi Valley.
These $19 million improvements completed the second phase of the widening project. A new westbound lane was constructed between Tapo Canyon Road and the Los Angeles/Ventura county line along with the widening of two sections of an eastbound lane along the same 5-mile stretch of freeway. The construction contractor, Security Paving Company of Sun Valley, completed the project six months ahead of schedule.
The project was partially financed with $6.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) which allowed construction to begin sooner than expected and at a lower cost than anticipated. The remaining funding was through the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The opening event was attended by state and local officials and the business community to mark the completion of work that will bring traffic congestion relief to more than 115,000 motorists daily who travel this route.
Caltrans Director Cindy McKim and District 7 Director Michael Miles represented the department. VCTC Chairman, Ventura Mayor William Fulton, and VCTC Executive Director Darren Kettle also participated in the program. City of Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber and Mayor Pro Tem Steven Sojka, spoke on behalf of the city. Lieutenant Susan May of the California Highway Patrol stressed the importance of “Arrive Alive – Don’t Drink and Drive.”
Legislative staff for Congress member Elton Gallegly, District 24; Senator Tony Strickland, District 19; Assembly member Cameron Smyth, District 38 and Assembly member Jeff Gorell, District 37, also attended.
“Caltrans is committed to reducing traffic congestion in Ventura and Los Angeles counties,” said Caltrans Director Cindy McKim. “This project is an excellent example of how the Recovery Act delivered the funding we needed to improve the freeway, while at the same time supporting jobs and the local economy.”
While phase two completed in one year, securing the needed funding was not as easy, according to Kettle. The initial study for the eastbound and westbound widening began in 2000. The VCTC competed for state and federal funding without the half cent sales tax earmarked for transportation as is available in Los Angeles County and many other counties.
“VCTC and Caltrans have jointly produced many successful transportation projects,” said Kettle. “This project has already benefited residents, visitors, and commerce, and it will provide safer, easier, and more efficient commutes for many years.”
The first phase completed in 2009. The $46.5 million improvement expanded eastbound SR-118 between Tapo Canyon Road and Kuehner Drive from three to four lanes, constructed nearly four miles of sound walls, widened four bridges, and installed nearly 11 miles of fiber-optic cables to collect traffic data.
“This is exactly the kind of project that the federal stimulus money was meant to fund,” said Fulton. “With a new fourth lane open on eastbound Route 118 but only three lanes on the westbound, it was easy to leave Simi Valley, but hard to get back to town. That is not what a city wants.”
Residents and motorists traveling through Ventura County will see $256 million dollars in state funds at work on roadway improvements beginning now and into 2012.
“Investments in transportation are more than just an investment in transportation,” said McKim. “It’s an investment in the economy and in the future of our local communities.”
Pavement rehabilitation recently began on US-101 from Thousand Oaks to Camarillo, a 12.6-mile stretch of highway in Ventura County. In fall 2011, construction begins on the first carpool lanes in Ventura County on US-101 from Mussel Shoals to the Santa Barbara County line. Next year, an $18.3 million project will replace four miles of seawall on coastal SR-1 near Solimar Beach.
“As we strive to meet the needs of a growing population, Caltrans will continue to work with its local partners – like the VCTC - to plan, build and maintain a transportation system that will serve the people of Ventura County well into the future,” said Miles.