Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014

by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 04/2012

The commute between Los Angeles and Orange County will become much easier.

Caltrans District 7, and many of its transportation funding partners, held a groundbreaking event on March 19 to announce the beginning of the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) Widening and Alondra Boulevard Bridge Project extending from North Fork Coyote Creek to Marquardt Avenue in the cities of Santa Fe Springs and La Mirada.

The one-mile long project will widen the freeway to add one High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), or carpool, lane and one general purpose lane in each direction. It also will reconstruct the existing Alondra Boulevard Bridge and North Fork Coyote Creek structures to accommodate a wider freeway, and re-align Firestone Boulevard and Freeway Drive frontage roads and ramps.

The $110 million improvement project begins the second of six I-5 South Corridor Improvement Projects. During the next five years, a $1.6 billion investment in transportation infrastructure will improve the seven mile corridor from the Los Angeles/Orange County line to the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605). Caltrans designed the Alondra Boulevard Bridge Project while working closely with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the I-5 Consortium Cities Joint Powers Authority and the Gateway Cities Council of Governments.

Funding sources are: the 2006 State Proposition 1B ($72.2 million); the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP); State Transportation Congestion Relief Program ($18.6 million); State Transportation Improvement Program ($8.6 million); Metro’s Proposition C and Measure R ($9.1 million); and the Federal Highway Administration ($830,000).

The groundbreaking event was attended by state and local officials to mark the beginning of work that will bring traffic congestion relief to more than 220,000 motorists daily who travel this route. C.C. Myers, Inc. of Rancho Cordova and Anaheim was awarded the construction contract in December 2011. Construction begins on April 2 and is expected to be completed by late 2015.

Caltrans Acting Chief Deputy Director Rick Land offered the keynote address and District 7 Director Michael Miles represented District 7 and served as the day’s master of ceremonies.

“Caltrans is making a solid investment in this region’s transportation system that will reduce traffic congestion on this corridor and provide jobs,” said Land.

Metro Board Chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Metro Deputy Chief Executive Officer Paul Taylor, and Metro Board Director Diane DuBois also spoke at the event.

"California voters approved Prop 1B to reduce traffic congestion and improve mobility,” said Villaraigosa. “We fought to ensure that Los Angeles County received its fair share of funds based on population and traffic delays.”

Other officials who participated in the program included Don Knabe, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District 4; Richard Katz, Board Chair, Southern California Regional Railroad Authority, Metrolink; and Rick Backlund, Associate Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administration.

Speaking on behalf of the local communities were Michael Mendez, Chair, I-5 Consortium Cities Joint Powers Authority and Mayor, City of Norwalk; Richard Moore, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Santa Fe Springs; Steve De Ruse, Councilmember, City of La Mirada; Gene Daniels, 1st VP, Gateway Cities Council of Governments and Vice Mayor, City of Paramount. Captain Daniel Minor, California Highway Patrol, Santa Fe Springs Area Commander, stressed the CHP’s presence during the extensive construction and urged that motorists practice safety in the cone zone at all times.

Legislative staff for Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez, District 39 and Senator Ron Calderon, District 30 also attended.

Residents, motorists, commuters and truckers traveling through Orange County and Los Angeles will see $1.6 billion in federal, state and local funds at work on roadway improvements now and into 2016.

“Investments in transportation are more than just an investment in transportation,” said Land. “It’s an investment in the economy and in the future of our local communities.”

Last fall, Caltrans began construction on the Carmenita Road Interchange Project, the first of the six I-5 South Corridor segments. The $380 million Carmenita Project includes widening one mile of roadway for one carpool lane and one general purpose lane from Alondra Boulevard to Shoemaker Avenue, a new 10-lane Carmenita Bridge plus other ramp and frontage road improvements.

“As we strive to meet the needs of a growing population, Caltrans will continue to work with its local partners to plan, build and maintain a transportation system that will serve the people of Los Angeles County well into the future,” said Miles.

At the groundbreaking event, Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles and Metrolink Board Chair Richard Katz announced a collaboration between the agencies to provide traffic impact mitigation during the estimated five-year construction period for I-5 South Corridor Improvement Projects.

“Our goal is to encourage and promote lasting commuter transportation mode shifts,” said Miles.

The Environmental Impact Report (June 2007) states that Caltrans is required to fund a program with incentives, education and public outreach to promote commuter usage of Metro and Metrolink commuter rail and transit services.

“Metrolink is the best alternative for drivers who want a safe, stress-free commute that is not impacted by the additional congestion caused by construction on I-5,” said Katz.

“Upon completion of all six segments, motorists will benefit with more freeway capacity, decreased congestion and travel times and better access to regional and commuter transit lines and carpool lanes,” said Paul Taylor, Metro Deputy Chief Executive Officer.