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I-5 project year late, over budget

Posted: November 28, 2008 9:44 p.m.
Updated: November 29, 2008 4:59 a.m.

Starting Dec. 1, the southbound Interstate 5 on-ramp at the intersection of Magic Mountain Parkway and The Old Road will be closed as construction continues on the interchange.

 
Delayed by unexpected digging problems and running more than $6 million over budget, major road upgrades near Six Flags Magic Mountain are proving far from magical for city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County administrators who now hope to have the entire project completed by the end of 2009.

The multi-phased undertaking, dubbed the Expansion of Magic Mountain/Interstate 5 project, is expected to end up costing at least $50 million, up from $43.7 million budgeted in 2006, said Curtis Nay, assistant city engineer monitoring the project.

Work to rebuild the I-5/Magic Mountain Parkway interchange, including all four ramps, and widen The Old Road cost $25 million so far.

Security Paving, the company contracted for the job, was to have completed work by September.

That date has been pushed back to December 2009.

Although the project is half-finished, according to Nay, construction crews are in the "seventh stage" of an 11-stage plan.

Crews are reshaping the north side of Magic Mountain Parkway from I-5 to Tourney Road, Nay said.

They were thrown off schedule this past year, he added, when diggers unearthed pipes and infrastructure in the ground that didn't show up on any of the area maps for gas or water.

"It happens sometimes. You start digging, find something, that is what delayed crews," Nay said. He said the buried obstacle was unearthed within the last year.

"This is a very large, complicated and massive project," Nay said. "It's far more complicated than we had planned."

Newhall Land and Farming Co. is paying at least $33.2 million of the overall costs. The remaining funds itemized in the initial budget, totalling $10.5 million, are expected to come from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The MTA and Newhall Land are expected to cover additional costs, Nay said.

News of the setback is disappointing for businesses in the area.

"It's hurting a lot of us," said Reyes Lemus, front office manager for the Hilton Garden Inn on The Old Road, who rolled his eyes when told of recent construction setbacks and added costs.

"Mostly, it's the guests who are affected," he said. "They're confused about how to get here.

"One person passed by the hotel four times because she couldn't find the entrance."

Road repairs isolated the hotel and its neighbor, Marie Callender's, from The Old Road, diverting traffic off the new road with an orange traffic sign directing motorists to the unnamed businesses.

"The project has definitely presented its challenges in terms of customers being able to enter and exit the facility," said Marie Callender spokeswoman Vivian Brooks.  "Marie Callender's looks forward to the day it is finished."

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