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Newhall Pass HOV lane planned

Posted: July 29, 2008 1:34 a.m.
Updated: September 29, 2008 5:01 a.m.

This photo shows the I-5 freeway from the Weldon Canyon bridge as evening traffic drives home on July 21.

 
Local commuters will soon have another incentive to buckle up with a buddy.

Two car pool lanes will be added to the Newhall Pass within about four years, a California Department of Transportation spokeswoman said Monday.

State workers began preliminary work this month to construct an elevated two-lane connector that will bridge the car pool lanes on Interstate 5 and Highway 14.

The elevated lanes will begin just east of Balboa Boulevard and will splinter in two directions at the I-5/Highway 14 interchange. One connector will branch off to Highway 14 and the other to I-5. The two-lane connector will include one southbound lane and one northbound lane.

“You can be on one freeway in the car pool lane and transfer to another freeway without leaving the car pool lane,” Caltrans spokeswoman Jeanne Bonfilio said. “It’s going to be a major improvement at this I-5/14 interchange.”

There have not yet been any major lane closures as construction is still in the preliminary phase, Bonfilio said. She does not yet know when commuters might encounter lane closures as a result of construction.

“This is really going to help provide what we call a seamless (High Occupancy Vehicle) system, which can really save time, it can save gas and it saves money,” Bonfilio said. “It helps the air quality when people aren’t idling in traffic.”

The $156 million state project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2012.

The department also wants to eventually add a truck climbing lane heading each direction on Interstate 5. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2010 on lanes that will extend from the Newhall Pass to Castaic, Bonfilio said. Interstate 5 won’t be widened for the additional lanes, she said. Instead, “They’re going to use what’s already there,” she said.

In 2012, Caltrans will start constructing a highway interchange where Commerce Center Drive meets Highway 126. The existing traffic light will be removed and lanes will be reconfigured to allow traffic to move straight through without stopping.

The $30.5 million interchange is being planned to accommodate future growth, Bonfilio said.

Freeway improvements already in the works include the I-5/ Magic Mountain Parkway expansion, which involves reconstructing the offramps and onramps and surrounding street intersections. The city of Santa Clarita is overseeing much of the interchange expansion, which is being funded largely by the Newhall Land and Farming Co.

Los Angeles County is constructing roundabouts at the Hasley Canyon Road offramps on the east and west sides of I-5. The Hasley Canyon Road improvements are scheduled to be completed in 2009.

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