Traffic on I-5 worsening

Glendale and Burbank motorists face some of the most congested stretches of the Golden State (5) Freeway, and it's only getting worse, according to a draft report by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The report on the agency's Congestion Management Program shows that Los Angeles County freeways — infamous for bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hour — have seen fairly consistent traffic conditions since the program started in 1991.

Under state law, cities and counties that include urban areas must develop and adopt a congestion-management program every other year.

This year's draft report noted that about 50% of the system operates at capacity, with heavy traffic during morning and afternoon rush hours.

But the report singles out the stretch of the Interstate 5 between the Hollywood (170) and Glendale (2) freeway interchanges as an example of a corridor that regularly experiences heavy traffic congestion in both directions, as opposed to a more traditional commuter traffic pattern.

While most conditions remained constant, the report cited the I-5 at Burbank Boulevard and the I-5 south of Colorado Boulevard as some of the freeway sections where traffic conditions worsened significantly last year.

Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who serves on the MTA Board of Directors, partially attributed the congestion on I-5 to the many trucks that travel the freeway corridor.

"It does get pretty congested through there, and I think the main reason for the congestion is so much of the freight traffic, which is why I'm such a strong supporter of putting freight on rails," Najarian said.

The freeway stretch will see some relief after the installation of carpool lanes in both directions between the 170 and Ventura (134) freeways, officials said.

State traffic commissioners also approved a plan to reconfigure the on- and off-ramps at Burbank Boulevard.

Ken Johnson, head of Burbank's traffic division, described the exit off I-5 as convoluted.

"The traffic has increased as it has generally increased throughout the system," he said. "Because of the close spacing of the signals and the ramp configuration, it has gotten a bit more congested."

Especially bad traffic often forces motorists off the freeway and onto Glenoaks Boulevard in Burbank, Johnson added.

The freeway improvements are expected to begin construction sometime next year, officials said.

"We have worked really closely with [the California Department of Transportation] to make sure the new configuration works as well as it can," Johnson said.

A public-comment period on the draft report concluded last week, with a final draft scheduled for review next month.

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