Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014

A Freeway Transformed (Almost): I-5 North Construction in High Gear
by  Kelly Markham
Issue Date: 03/2012

Click on photos to read captions.

If you’ve driven the Golden State Freeway (I-5) in north Los Angeles County anytime in the past two years, no doubt you’ve noticed there’s a LOT of work underway. The I-5 Corridor in District 7 is in the midst of a major makeover, specifically the portions in north and south Los Angeles County. On the segment between the Ventura Freeway (SR-134) and the Kern County Line, aka “I-5 North,” a few of the smaller projects that are part of the makeover are already finished, several are in construction, and a couple more are getting ready to start.

Why all the attention to I-5? For years, motorists on the Golden State Freeway have contended with heavy congestion during peak periods, and forecasts indicate that conditions will further deteriorate in the coming years due to increased demand. So, to improve mobility and achieve acceptable levels of traffic operation, District 7 has made the I-5 corridor a priority. When all the projects are complete in 2016, I-5 will be much more driver-friendly.

I-5 North construction — 11 projects total — includes everything from relatively simple pavement rehab jobs and soundwall construction to carpool lanes, grade separations, interchange improvements, new connectors, and truck lanes. No section of I-5 North (a distance of about 62 miles) will go unimproved.

Taken together, I-5 North projects cost about $1.4 billion, an infrastructure investment that underscores the importance of I-5 to the state’s transportation system, particularly when you consider the additional six projects (cost: $1.6 billion) that make up the I-5 South construction program. (See the I-5 South update in this issue for details.)

Of the 11 projects that make up I-5 North, two are now complete: the paving project between Vista Del Lago Road and Lake Hughes Road has just wrapped up, and the paving project between the Foothill Freeway (I-210) and the Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14) completed last October. So, two down, nine to go!

Coming Attractions

The next I-5 projects to begin construction are a pavement replacement project between Vista Del Lago Road and the Kern County Line and a highly anticipated truck lanes project between SR-14 and Pico Canyon Road/Lyons Avenue in the Santa Clarita area, both of which will begin construction in a month or two. And then, early next year, District 7 will break ground on the biggest project of them all: the massive Empire Avenue project in Burbank.

“Empire Avenue” is actually a misnomer — it doesn’t begin to capture the full scope of work included in this $452 million project. The project will build carpool lanes between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street, modify the Empire Avenue interchange, reconstruct the Burbank Boulevard interchange, and relocate the railroad to create grade separations. Utility relocation will likely begin this fall.

In the meantime, construction on the other I-5 North projects continues at full throttle.

“So far, the I-5 North projects have finished on time and on budget, and in some cases they finished early,” said Deputy Director of Construction Roy Fisher. “Many of our people have worked long days to keep these projects running smoothly. I appreciate the dedication our construction team has shown and the support provided by other divisions. It’s already paying off.”

For more information on I-5 projects, visit District 7’s I-5 website:


District 7's I-5 North improvements include 11 projects between SR-134 and the Kern County line. The I-5/SR-14 direct HOV connector project began in 2008 and is on track to wrap up in 2013. The columns for the new connector are shown here. A concrete pour for the Western Avenue interchange project, which will complete next month. The highly anticipated I-5 truck lanes project will begin in May.