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Project Aims to End Traffic Snarls

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Crews have begun preliminary work on a nearly $10-million effort to unclog traffic on the Ventura Freeway’s Johnson Drive interchange in Ventura.

The project, expected to last a year, will eliminate the Union Pacific Railroad crossing at Auto Center Drive by replacing it with a bridge over an extended Johnson Drive. Nearby Leland Street will also be widened.

In addition, traffic signals will be installed at on- and offramps from Johnson Drive to the freeway, which are currently controlled by stop signs. The ramps will be widened, a drainage ditch will be relocated and the area will be landscaped.

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The project is expected to be completed by June, 2000.

As the project progresses, portions of Leland Street, Johnson Drive and Auto Center Drive will be temporarily closed or detoured, said Jay Spurgin, a Ventura project engineer.

Officials hope the changes will alleviate traffic jams that occur during peak commuter hours, improve safety at the railroad crossing and ease access to the Auto Mall.

Funding comes from the state, gas tax, city traffic mitigation fees and the Union Pacific Railroad, which will contribute about $700,000, Spurgin said.

Dave Peters, fleet sales manager for Harbor Chrysler Plymouth in the Auto Mall, welcomes the changes. Clogged traffic along the interchange discourages motorists from visiting the Auto Mall, he said.

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