Reacting to a sharp increase in highway congestion, a key Los Angeles County Transportation Commission committee recommended Tuesday that a higher priority be given to widening the Antelope Valley Freeway and also urged that the size of the project be doubled.
If the full commission and state officials uphold the vote of the Finance and Programming Committee, the $50-million project would eliminate four-lane sections in which traffic crawls "at under 20 m.p.h. for two to three hours daily," said Linda Bohlinger, commission director of capital planning.
The widening to a uniform six lanes would extend from San Fernando Road in the city of Santa Clarita 19 miles northeast to Escondido Canyon Road in Agua Dulce.
The committee voted Tuesday to move the project from 81st to 46th on a list of 95 proposed highway projects in the county.
Commission spokeswoman Roberta Tinajero said, however, that funding is already assured for the top 35 projects, "so this is the equivalent of being 11th on the list."
"Based on newer information, the committee definitely felt that additional money was needed for this widening."
Despite the vote, state Department of Transportation officials said they could not predict when the project might be built. One said it is likely to be at least five years away.
The 11-member commission is to take up the question of priorities for highway projects at its meeting in Los Angeles today.
And on Aug. 14, the California Transportation Commission will assign priorities to projects throughout Southern California.
Although the state commission has the final say, it usually follows the recommendations of county commissions, each of which is allotted a portion of state road-building funds based on population.