Ground broken for new carpool lanes

BURBANK — Officials on Thursday broke ground on a new stretch of carpool lanes for the Golden State (5) Freeway, the latest in a number of multi-million dollar projects meant to ease traffic congestion.

State and county transportation officials gathered with elected representatives from across the region to celebrate the nearly $70-million project, which will add new carpool lanes on both directions to the 4.4-mile stretch of the I-5 between the Hollywood (170) Freeway interchange and Buena Vista Street.

Officials lauded the project, which they said will, when completed, help reduce traffic congestion along a portion of the freeway that sees nearly 200,000 vehicles each day.

“If you’ve sat in that traffic, you know what I’m talking about,” said Mike Miles, director of California Department of Transportation District 7, during a ceremony in the parking lot of the Armenian Apostolic Church near the freeway.

In September, a Los Angeles County report singled out the stretch of the Interstate 5 between the Hollywood (170) and Glendale (2) freeway interchanges as one of the most congested corridors.

“This is going to make it a lot easier for people,” said county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose constituents from Glendale to the Santa Clarita Valley are among the commuters who use that stretch of freeway.

In addition to the carpool lanes, the project will also include repairing damaged pavement, installation of sound walls and the realignment of the Hollywood Way on- and off-ramps.

Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who sits on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board of directors, said the sound walls would “reduce the impacts of our freeways on the neighborhoods.”

Funding for the project comes from nearly $40 million in federal stimulus money and $22.6 million in Los Angeles County Proposition C revenue.

Construction will take place at night, with up to two lanes closed at a time and ramp closures staggered, officials said. Motorists will be alerted to closures with signs.

Burbank City Councilman Jess Talamantes urged residents to be patient during the several years of construction, which is slated to be completed in summer 2014. Heavy construction on the project is expected to get under way within coming weeks.

Construction has already begun on the carpool lanes between State Route 118 and the 170 Freeway.

“Be patient,” Talamantes said. “The end result will be worth the wait.”

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