Caltrans officials Friday projected that the Ventura Freeway improvement and widening project will cost an additional $20 million, which could revive a controversial plan to designate a car-pool lane on the heavily congested thoroughfare.
Bob Remen, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said federal funds may be needed to complete the project, now expected to cost about $40 million. But he said federal policy says such funds cannot be used unless one of the lanes is restricted for car-pools and buses.
Caltrans had initially proposed a “diamond lane” for a portion of the Ventura Freeway widening project scheduled to begin early next year.
But the proposal was later dropped when it met opposition from homeowner organizations and elected officials, who argued that such special lanes cause accidents and are unfair to those who travel at varying times and cannot form car-pools.
Because of the cost overrun, the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission will have to decide whether a car-pool lane is warranted, Remen said.
But David Roper, Caltrans’ deputy district director, said Friday that county transportation officials “have already decided to forgo federal funding on this project.”
Roper said a car-pool lane on the Ventura Freeway is “absolutely intolerable. The people in this region have spoken very clearly on this matter.”
In 1987, Caltrans dropped the proposal of a diamond lane in favor of a general-use lane after opponents swamped the agency with more than 12,000 protest letters.