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Work resumes on Highway 126

Posted: December 8, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 8, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Work has resumed on the project to add new lanes and lift Highway 126 traffic over Commerce Center Drive in Castaic, several weeks after the discovery of a number of legless lizards stymied work in the area.

Kerjon Lee, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, said Thursday that work resumed earlier this week in project areas that are outside the nearby riverbed.

That work includes moving a series of dirt mounds to form the foundation of the bridge that will be constructed to raise Highway 126 over Commerce Center Drive, Lee said.

Legless lizards, which look similar to snakes, were discovered while workers removed vegetation in the project area in mid-October. The reptiles were later relocated, according to Lee.

Since the lizards are considered a “species of special concern” by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, work on the project stopped so department officials could examine the work protection plan for the area.

“The work zone protection plan is designed to protect fish and wildlife resources during construction operations, specifically within the Santa Clara River,” wrote Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the department, in an email last month.

Specifically, that plan would outline measures in place to keep wildlife from being accidentally washed into the construction zone during a storm.

“They sent their questions to us and we sent our response earlier this week,” Lee said. “We are expecting to hear from them shortly.”

The Highway 126 project, a collaborative effort between Public Works, the California Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, entails construction of a bridge to lift traffic on Highway 126 over Commerce Center Drive and an expansion of the highway to three lanes in each direction.

The project would also add on- and off-ramps from Highway 126 to Commerce Center Drive and Henry Mayo Drive, realign and extend Henry Mayo Drive and place traffic signals at the intersection of Henry Mayo and Commerce Center drives and at the intersection of the highway and the access road to the Valencia Travel Village RV park.

Officials say the project will help relieve congestion in the area as more than 40,000 vehicles can make their way through the intersection of Highway 126 and Commerce Center Drive every day, according to estimates.


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