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Joint Project Expected to Reduce Traffic Woes

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Times Staff Writer

A $73-million, high-tech traffic-management system is expected to reduce San Diego County freeway congestion by 30% by the year 2005, Caltrans officials announced Wednesday.

The plan--a combined effort of Caltrans, the San Diego Assn. of Governments (Sandag) and the California Highway Patrol--will incorporate several high-tech projects that were approved in a 1988 State Transportation Improvement Plan, said Steve Saville, public information officer with the California Department of Transportation.

The plan results from legislation sponsored by then-Assemblyman Larry Stirling (R-San Diego), said J. Thomas Hawthorne, chairman of the California Transportation Commission. The bill was signed by Gov. George Deukmejian in October and went into effect Wednesday, Hawthorne said.

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“This is the starting of that combined effort between Caltrans, Sandag and CHP,” Hawthorne said.

The project will feature a traffic control center at the Caltrans office on Juan Street. The center will be complemented by a communications network, special devices to detect traffic congestion, 170 additional ramp meters, 36 closed-circuit television cameras, 14 message signs, traffic advisory radio stations for motorists, and three motorist service response teams. The project will cover 211 miles of I-5, I-8 and California 94.

“This project faces up to the fact that we need to manage our highway system better,” said Jim Larson, public information officer with Caltrans. With the aid of some high-tech breakthroughs that will be available in the next five years, Larson said, motorists will be better able to get to and from work.

The project, to be completed in the mid-1990s, will be similar to the transit system now in place in Los Angeles, said Larson, but “this one will take advantage of new technology. The one in Los Angeles was built in another era.”

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