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5 Freeway project, hampered by winter weather, has new finish date

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A three-way interchange is planned to be installed at Victory Place and Empire Avenue as part of Caltrans’ 5 Freeway project.
(Courtesy of Caltrans)

Commuters driving along Victory Place through the Empire Center may see some changes in the coming weeks.

Caltrans is slowly but surely making progress on its 5 Freeway improvement project, specifically the Empire Avenue underpass that will connect Empire to North San Fernando Boulevard.

During the coming weeks, contractors working for the state will remove the K-rails and install a three-way intersection with stop signs at Victory and a street that Caltrans is labeling as Old Empire Avenue, said Michael Comeaux, a spokesman for Caltrans.

Maria Street, which currently connects to Empire, will be reconfigured to meet up with what is being dubbed by state officials as New Empire Avenue — which once completed will go under Victory.

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In September, Caltrans officials anticipated the Empire interchange project would be partially open by January and fully completed in July.

However, winter rainstorms caused delays and have pushed the timetable back several months.

Transportation officials are now expecting the interchange will be finished in December.

John Yang, Caltrans’ construction corridor manager for the 5 Freeway project, told the Burbank City Council during a meeting on April 30 that the weather delays have also had an impact on other major projects — such as the demolition and reconstruction of the Burbank Boulevard bridge and freeway widening.

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Once the Empire interchange is completed, Caltrans plans to close the Burbank bridge sometime in February 2020 and construct a new overpass by April 2021.

Should everything go according to plan, Yang said the HOV lanes on the 5 Freeway — and most of the major projects along the corridor — should be completed by July 2021.

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