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What other abuse can be heaped on Castaic?

Posted: April 19, 2013 9:54 a.m.
Updated: April 19, 2013 9:54 a.m.
 

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority has plans to place a carpool lane on Interstate 5 northbound from Highway 14 to Parker Road in Castaic. In fact, a Metro committee approved the plan — as a toll road — this week.

Most residents of Castaic travel southbound on a daily basis to their jobs or to whatever they need to accomplish that day, including taking their children to school.

Of course, these travelers must return to Castaic at the end of the day. There are three exits from the I-5 in Castaic. The southernmost is Hasley Canyon, the middle exit is Parker Road and the final exit is Lake Hughes Road, which is a half-mile north of Parker Road.

It is at Parker Road that Metro proposes to end the carpool lanes.

While it is admirable that Metro is exploring plans to add an HOV lane, it is absolutely insane that it would end it in the middle of Castaic’s three lanes.

It does not take a traffic engineer to realize that removing a lane of travel (here the HOV lane at Parker Road) and having traffic forced into one less lane will cause traffic nightmares.

Additionally, the county of Los Angeles has previously declared the area of Castaic Road, which is just off of Parker Road and Lake Hughes Road, to be a truck stop area. Therefore, we will have 18-wheelers co-mingling with traffic from an HOV lane ending at the same place in our community.

I challenge any sensible individual to try to explain why this situation would prove to be a benefit to Castaic and not extremely hazardous to residents with the many other motorists besides truckers and local traffic traveling the I-5.

After motorists travel a half-mile from where the dangerous HOV lane will end, there is no exit on the I-5 for more than five miles. It is approximately 25 miles to any exit where there are any services to be provided to motorists during that span.

It should be noted that when there are snow closures on the I-5 through the Grapevine, traffic is stopped at Parker Road.

Eliminating a lane at this area will result in a traffic jam backing well into Santa Clarita.

In the event Castaic High School is ever built, Parker Road will be the exit most used by parents to get their children to school.

It is inconceivable that someone would have actually proposed this situation, and it most certainly needs to be reviewed and corrected immediately.

Metro officials have relied upon the standard answer that there is insufficient money to end this HOV lane 14.5 miles from its start, rather than 13.5 miles. This would put its ending beyond Lake Hughes Road.

That response is absolutely absurd; the money that will be paid in claims from injured motorists will greatly exceed the cost of adding one more mile.

It was mentioned by Metro that without the toll road, the project would not be completed until 2040, but with the toll road it might be feasible by 2019.

Since the vast majority of California freeways do not require a fee for use (what does “freeway” mean, anyway?), it seems absurd that local residents will pay $40 a day and have their safety jeopardized.

Metro went on to advise that it would consider extending the carpool lane beyond Parker Road after a feasibility study is done.

Obviously, any such feasibility study would be costly — and unnecessary, since we know we do not want to jeopardize the motorists traveling on the I-5 in our community.

It is interesting to note that while construction might begin, at a great inconvenience to motorists — particularly those in Castaic — under the current plan, we would need to undergo the same inconvenience if we were successful in convincing Metro to move this HOV lane another mile at a great cost in a ridiculous “Phase 2.”

Workers will have the equipment out, K rails installed, signs posted, etc., to complete this by 2019, and in the unlikely event we were successful in winning an extension it would require the tremendous cost of bringing all this equipment, signage, etc., back to use to complete the additional mile.

If you have an opinion on this matter, I would suggest that you contact our county supervisor, who is also on the Metro board, at the following address:

Michael D. Antonovich, Chairman
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, California 90012-2952

John Kunak is the first Castaic resident to be serving a third term on the Castaic Area Town Council and also served two terms on the Castaic Union School District school board. He is a member of several Castaic community organizations. This column expresses his views, not those of any groups to which he belongs.

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