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I-5 upgrades proposed to help reduce traffic jams

Congressman McKeon introduces proposal that calls for more high-occupancy vehicle and truck lanes

Posted: April 28, 2009 10:46 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2009 4:55 a.m.

An illustration shows the section of Interstate 5 that Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon is proposing to upgrade in an effort to reduce traffic jams.

 
Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon was on Capitol Hill trying to drum up money for a highway project that benefits taxpayers beyond the Santa Clarita Valley on Tuesday, according to a McKeon spokesman.

McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Highways and Transit on Tuesday. The transportation and infrastructure committee is about to draft its five-year infrastructure spending plan and McKeon wants some of the money spent on a stretch of Interstate 5 in the Santa Clarita Valley, said Bob Haueter, McKeon's deputy chief of staff.

McKeon unveiled his plan during the hearing.

"The Santa Clarita-Los Angeles Gateway Improvement Project will help relieve congestion along one of the most heavily traveled portions of the I-5, which currently experiences 48,000 daily hours of delay, costing motorists $204 million annually," McKeon said during his testimony.

If built, the Santa Clarita-Los Angeles Gateway Improvement Project will extend high-occupancy vehicle lanes, on both sides of Interstate 5, from just south of the Highway 14 interchange to Parker Road in Castaic, he said.

McKeon told the committee that the project is a regional priority that not only alleviates traffic jams, but also helps commercial trucks move goods along Interstate 5.

The project will also add truck-only lanes on Interstate 5 from the Highway 14 to the Pico Canyon Road/Lyons Road exit in Stevenson Ranch, McKeon said.

"The I-5 is one of the most significant transportation corridors and goods movement arteries in California and the country," McKeon said in the subcommittee meeting. The I-5 freeway is essential to moving goods between Canada and Mexico, as well as moving goods from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to states throughout the West, he added.

McKeon recounted two incidents in which Interstate 5 was shut down in the Newhall Pass to help makes his case for improving the stretch of road during his testimony Tuesday.

"The I-5 is also susceptible to complete gridlock, costing billions of dollars for tragic events such as the large truck fire in 2007 and the Northridge earthquake of 1994," McKeon said. A truck collision and fire on the southbound side of Interstate 5 killed three people in October 2007 and closed some lanes for days.

The bill has several steps before any approved projects can begin, said Lindsey Mask, McKeon's press secretary.

McKeon and other members of Congress must submit their regional priorities to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure by May 8 for inclusion in the five-year infrastructure and transportation spending bill, she said. The committee will spend the spring and summer drafting the bill. There is no timetable for when the bill will hit the floor of Congress, she said.

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