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Traffic to Squeeze Onto South Side of Ventura Freeway

Times Staff Writer

Beginning with rush hour this evening, all six lanes of the Ventura Freeway will be crowded together on the south side of the median near Valley Circle Boulevard in Woodland Hills, state Department of Transportation officials said Monday.

The lanes will remain in that densely packed configuration for at least one month while the pavement north of the median is torn out and replaced, a Caltrans spokesman said.

Once the westbound lanes are repaved, all six lanes of traffic will be shifted to the north side of the median while the pavement south of the median is removed and replaced, said Caltrans Project Coordinator Larry Hathaway.

The realignment, which will affect only about half a mile of freeway, is the final phase of a 16-month widening of the Ventura Freeway from Topanga Canyon Boulevard to Valley Circle.

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By adding one lane in each direction, the $23-million project will eliminate the “Woodland Hills bottleneck"--a two-mile stretch in which the freeway narrows from four lanes to three lanes in both directions.

Caltrans spokesman John Pashdag said he sees “no problem in sight at all” that would prevent the contractor, Tutor-Saliba Corp., from meeting the project’s deadline in June.

Hathaway said that while motorists might feel somewhat constricted by the squeezing of the lanes, all six lanes will be 11 feet wide, which is the standard width for much new freeway construction.

And there will be a concrete barrier between eastbound and westbound traffic.

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Eastbound motorists began using the new 11-foot-wide lanes on Monday and “traffic flowed well this morning through the realigned lanes without disruption,” Hathaway said.

2 Detours

To offset the anticipated slowing effect of cramming all six lanes onto one side of the median, Caltrans has opened two bypass routes aimed at luring motorists bound for Warner Center and Calabasas off the freeway.

The detours, which have been working without difficulty for nearly a month, are not for motorists with other destinations, who are urged to stay on the freeway, Pashdag said.

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This fall, Caltrans hopes to award a contract to widen the freeway to five lanes each way on all remaining portions of the freeway from Universal City to Topanga.


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