Caltrans celebrates start of I-5 construction

Traffic moves north and south at the Highway 14 and Interstate 5 connector in the Newhall Pass. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Northern Los Angeles County Interstate-5 commuters are in for a smoother ride.

Caltrans broke ground on their $171 million project to improve the pavement quality on the freeway running through Santa Clarita on Wednesday.

The I-5 Roadway Rehabilitation Project will revamp 15.8 miles of the freeway from half a mile south of Route 14 to a mile and a half north of Lake Hughes Road by replacing the old concrete.

“It’s time we see smoother and safer pavement,” Caltrans District 7 Director Carrie Bowen said. “We need this freeway to move people and goods safely and effectively.”

It has been about 50 years since the pavement has been redone in this area, according to Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

After two years of construction on this project, the new pavement will last another 40 or 50 years, he said.

“I don’t think I need to sell you on the importance of I-5,” Dougherty said.

Funding for the project comes not long after Senate Bill 1 was passed in California, which is also funding dozens of other transportation projects using state and federal resources.

The I-5 project was conceptualized and approved prior to the passing of the bill, but ties into a statewide effort to improve freeways.


Local and state dignitaries and officials break ceremonial ground on the Interstate 5 resurfacing project following a ceremony on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), who voted in favor of the bill, said this project will not only help with commutes, but improve safety.

“I am proud to stand up this year for infrastructure,” Stern said. “We are going to save people’s lives. We’ve got to deliver this for you.”

This project shows that California is moving forward, the freshman senator said.

Santa Clarita’s Mayor Cameron Smyth said he personally uses this freeway several times a week going back and forth to his day job.

As the population of the valley grows, it is important to invest in improvements to infrastructure, Smyth said.

“Here is a concrete example, no pun intended, of where our tax dollars are going,” Smyth said.

Improving this freeway is beneficial for Santa Clarita locals, Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) said.

“I’m excited about this project,” Wilk said. “It’s been a long time coming and it is important for the people in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

Use of I-5 is critical for current and future SCV residents and visitors, Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) said.

“This project is vital as more people find and move to the Santa Clarita Valley,” Acosta said.

Improving this stretch of highway will be fiscally positive in saving wear and tear on vehicles, according to Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).

“These 15.8 miles are needed,” Knight said. “This is not just for a smoother road, but the economic impact.”

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