The U. S. Highway Administration says it won't act on a demand from Southern California smog regulators to restrict a new eastbound lane on the Ventura Freeway to car pools and buses.
A federal official said Tuesday that the highway agency will send the demand for a "diamond lane," reserved for vehicles with at least one passenger, to state transportation officials.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District sent a letter a month ago to federal highway officials demanding that funds be withheld from the upcoming widening of the freeway if the state Department of Transportation goes through with plans to open the eastbound lane to all traffic.
Application Not Finished
Glenn Clinton, the highway administration's district director, said that a reply to be sent this week tells the air quality board of directors that it acted prematurely because Caltrans has not completed its application for federal funds.
Once the application is complete, he said, federal officials will determine the type of lane that should be built.
Clinton said federal officials also will tell the air quality directors that, if they have evidence that restricting the lane to car pools will cause "significant reduction in air pollution, they should communicate that to Caltrans."
The federal government is expected to pay about 85% of the $22-million cost of expanding the freeway to five lanes each way between the Hollywood Freeway and Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
Caltrans dropped plans to make the eastbound lane a diamond lane nearly a year ago in response to widespread opposition in the San Fernando Valley. From the outset, the new westbound lane has been designated for all vehicles.