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State Approves Funds to Widen California 23

Times Staff Writer

After years of delays, east Ventura County commuters may finally get relief from gridlock now that a state panel has approved spending $48.3 million to widen California 23.

The state Transportation Commission on Thursday voted to set aside the bulk of the money needed to pay for additional northbound and southbound lanes on the highway from the Ventura Freeway interchange in Thousand Oaks to Los Angeles Avenue in Moorpark.

The highway currently has two lanes in each direction.

The project is expected to cost $58 million, with the remaining $9.7 million coming from federal funds secured in 2002.

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“Finally, some congestion relief is coming to Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks,” said Moorpark Councilman Keith Millhouse, a member of the Ventura County Transportation Commission.

Stalled by state budget woes, the project has long been a county transportation priority. The 7 1/2 -mile highway connects the Ventura Freeway in Thousand Oaks with the Ronald Reagan Freeway in Moorpark.

Millhouse said the project’s construction costs have ballooned by about 40% in the three years it has been delayed.

Moreover, congestion on the highway, which carried nearly 96,000 vehicles during rush hours in 2002, was spilling over onto surface streets and raising safety issues, he said.

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Millhouse said the project should ease traffic flow on the highway and neighboring streets. Construction could begin by February, according to county staff.

The project, expected to be completed in 2009, will help handle a projected 35% increase in traffic over the next 25 years, officials said.


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