Local News in Brief : Landowner Disputes to Delay Ramp Job on Ventura Freeway

Because of unresolved disputes with property owners, construction of the Valley Circle interchange on the Ventura Freeway in Woodland Hills will be delayed about 18 months, state Department of Transportation officials said Thursday.

The interchange delay will not affect the widening of the freeway from Valley Circle to Universal City, said Jack Hallin, Caltrans' project development chief for Southern California.

Caltrans design engineer Ken Nelson said that, if agreements can be reached with owners of property next to the Valley Circle interchange, work on the $31-million intersection could begin by mid-1991.

An earlier Caltrans estimate that the two-year project would get under way by late 1989 "was based on the assumption that everything would fall into place without difficulty," Nelson said. "It was a goal to shoot for, but I'm not surprised we won't be able to meet it."

Work on the first of two widening projects--the addition of a fourth lane in each direction between Valley Circle and Topanga Canyon Boulevard--is to begin late this month or next, Hallin said.

The major widening project, the addition of a fifth lane each way from Topanga to Universal City, is tentatively scheduled to begin late this year and last 16 months.

However, the larger widening project remains under a cloud while federal highway officials determine whether the new eastbound lane should be a "diamond lane," restricted to car pools and buses. If federal officials determine that the eastbound lane should be restricted, there could be delays of up to two years while the project is redesigned, Hallin said.

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