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Expressway, Reversible Lane Urged to Ease Valley’s Traffic Jams

Times Staff Writer

Stiff developer fees were advocated Monday as a way to pay for a series of proposed San Fernando Valley traffic improvements, including making Victory Boulevard an expressway and creating a reversible lane on Sepulveda Boulevard.

Los Angeles City Councilman Howard Finn, who chaired a state-mandated committee that devised a list of proposed solutions to the Valley’s growing traffic congestion, said that developer fees would provide much of the money needed to accomplish the measures proposed by the committee.

The advisory group was organized in response to a study that found that traffic jams in the Valley will be the worst in Southern California by the year 2000.

Finn, who also is chairman of the council’s influential Planning and Environment Committee, said that the funds for traffic projects could come from an ordinance being drafted by city planners to divide the entire city into traffic assessment districts.

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The districts, which would be patterned after three created in recent years in Warner Center, Westwood and the Los Angeles International Airport area, impose a one-time fee on builders based on the number of trips--by customers and employees--generated by a project on an average day.

Traffic Mitigation Districts

Per-trip fees in the existing districts, called Traffic Mitigation Districts, range from $2,200 in the airport district to $5,600 for the Westwood district, city officials said.

Finn said that fees would be set to cover the costs of needed traffic improvements in each district.

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He called the fee system the “only meaningful, feasible solution among the many proposals in the air aimed at solving the entire city’s traffic problems.”

Finn predicted that the council will unanimously pass the ordinance creating the districts when it is completed in about 60 days. Building industry leaders have not opposed the measure.

If the districts are created, the councilman said, the Valley would have a head start on the rest of the city in reducing congestion because the state-mandated traffic study, completed in May, identified 26 traffic improvement projects that could be built with fees.

The study, under the auspices of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, was conducted by a 65-member committee that included all city and state elected officials in the Valley.

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‘Will Improve Traffic’

Larry Foutz, who managed the study for the association, said the “beauty of the proposals is that each of them individually will improve traffic, although a complete solution would require all of them.”

Among the more controversial proposals is a $43-million project to install 19 prefabricated overpasses along Victory Boulevard between Burbank Boulevard in Burbank and Platt Avenue in Canoga Park, turning the road into an expressway.

Another is constructing a reversible lane down the center of Sepulveda Boulevard between Devonshire Street and Mulholland Drive. The lane would carry southbound traffic in the morning and northbound traffic in the evening.

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The $1.4-million project could increase the thoroughfare’s carrying capacity nearly 50%, Foutz said.

Other projects advocated by the committee are extending Reseda Boulevard south to connect with Mulholland Drive, tunneling Saticoy Street under the Van Nuys Airport and extending Haskell Avenue across Roscoe Boulevard and the adjacent Southern Pacific railroad tracks, creating a continuous thoroughfare from Victory Boulevard to Rinaldi Street.

The committee also urged relocating the Burbank Boulevard northbound on-ramps and off-ramps to the San Diego Freeway and relocating several freeway ramps in the Burbank Media District.


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