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Budget Boosts Ventura Blvd. Traffic Project

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Times Staff Writer

Among the highlights of a new Los Angeles budget, tentatively approved Wednesday by the City Council, is funding to complete the installation of computerized traffic lights on Ventura Boulevard, the San Fernando Valley’s busiest street.

The $2.9 billion spending plan includes money for a wide range of Valley activities and projects, from Christmas parades to the building at Cleveland High School in Reseda of the Valley’s first publicly owned indoor swimming pool. Money also is provided for a long-awaited project to eliminate a jog on Nordhoff Street near Northridge Fashion Center.

Among the most significant items in the budget is $3 million for the Ventura Boulevard high-tech traffic signal system, which is supposed to improve traffic flow on the busy thoroughfare.

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The system uses a computer to monitor traffic through major intersections and automatically changes green and red lights depending on the traffic. It was successfully introduced during the 1984 Olympics to guide traffic through the Coliseum area.

The system is being installed on Ventura between Wilbur Avenue in Reseda and Valley Circle Boulevard in Woodland Hills. That portion of the system is expected to be working by mid-July.

The system was not expected to be installed on the rest of Ventura for several years. But Mayor Tom Bradley earmarked funds in the budget to complete the project by July, 1989, as the Ventura Freeway is being widened. Additional traffic is expected to spill onto Ventura Boulevard during the widening project.

The budget also includes $7 million to construct a bridge to connect two segments of Nordhoff Street, which now zigzags at Corbin Avenue. Construction is scheduled to begin in September with completion expected in March, 1990.

Under an agreement approved by the City Council in 1986, the owner of Northridge Fashion Center will pay $1.5 million of the project’s cost. The payment was sought by the area’s councilman, Hal Bernson, as a condition to the council’s approval of the mall’s expansion.

Funds also were included in the budget for city traffic engineers to study and possibly set up reversible traffic lanes on Ventura Boulevard in the Encino area and on Victory Boulevard between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and the San Diego Freeway.

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Under the concept, the center lane of the street is marked to provide an additional lane on the most heavily traveled part of the street during rush hours. A spokesman for the city Department of Transportation said that a decision on whether to establish the reversible lanes will not be made until the department completes a traffic study, expected within a few months.

Also included in the budget are:

Funds to continue operation of the Valtrans Dial-a-Ride, which serves the disabled and elderly across the Valley, and to continue operation of several Valley-to-downtown Los Angeles commuter bus lines.

Funds to continue a shuttle bus service on Foothill Boulevard between Sunland-Tujunga and Sylmar. However, city traffic engineers are considering recommending that the City Council cancel the service because of low ridership. Even though funds are included in the budget to continue the service, the council can later decide not to spend the money.

About $429,000 to build a storm drain to relieve flooding in the Sherman Way tunnel under the runways at Van Nuys Airport.

Money to acquire land for a senior citizens center in Pacoima at an undetermined site.

About $8.1 million for improvements at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys. Most of the money will go to expanding the capacity of the plant from 40 million gallons of sewage treated per day to 80 million gallons.

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