Congestion on the I-5 may be reduced, thanks to a newly awarded federal $47 million grant to Metro to build truck lanes and extend High-Occupancy Vehicle, or carpool, lanes running through the SCV.
A new 4.7-mile truck lane would run between Pico Canyon and State Route 14, while the 3.4-mile northbound truck lane would run between Highway 14 and Calgrove Boulevard. The funds also would extend HOV lanes 13.4 miles from the Highway 14 and Interstate 5 interchange in Santa Clarita to Parker Road in Castaic.
The Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant was awarded through the efforts of Congressman Steve Knight and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“The I-5 is the backbone of the U.S. western supply chain with more than 200,000 vehicle trips per day of which, 50,000 are freight trucks,” said Barger spokesman Tony Bell. “Chokepoints in the Santa Clarita Valley grind these trips to a halt with a negative impact on surrounding thoroughfares.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste said the I-5 was used by a significant portion of Santa Clarita commuters and was a critical corridor of transportation goods.
“It is a huge safety issue,” she said of the current conditions. “If you think about all the stories of all the issues of trucks in and out of the SCV, I think this is one of the most compelling issues to residents. After this is done in a few years, we will no longer be interacting with the trucks as much.”
“This is a gift to everyone in the Santa Clarita valley,” she added. “You’ll feel the difference.”
The awarded funds are under the I-5 Golden State Chokepoint Relief Program and adds to Metro’s own locally-generated funding to increase capacity and improve goods movement via freight trucks
“This is a great day for our Santa Clarita Valley communities and a major step forward in our effort to reduce congestion along the Interstate 5 corridor, which will improve traffic safety, air quality and economic vitality across the region,” said Barger, who is a Metro board member.
Metro is contributing over $250 million in local sales tax dollars for the project, according to Barger’s office. Metro’s funding will also be matched with more than $200 million in Senate Bill 1 gas tax funds approved by California voters in 2017.
Knight called the new plans a “mammoth piece of news” and that the office had been working closely with the Department of Transportation closely for a year, although the discussion about the I-5 gridlock had been ongoing for 20 years.
“This is great news for Santa Clarita, and also our district,” he said. “Anyone who’s driven through the SCV knows how difficult it is to move along the I-5. It’s a tough drive even on Sunday afternoons. It gets bogged down.”
Knight said a timeline would still be released for when the project’s completion date is.
The project is fully funded with federal, state and local money and was already part of the county’s plan to improve I-5 with money from passing Measure M, according to Barger transportation deputy Dave Perry.
The federal INFRA grant Program provides dedicated funding for projects that address certain infrastructure in need of improvements.
“This successful outcome is great news and a result of a unique partnership among several entities and organizations, including Metro, Caltrans, Supervisor Barger and Congressmen Knight and McCarthy,” said Victor Lindenheim, Executive Director of the Golden State Gateway Coalition. “This project will relieve congestion, provide jobs, and enhance goods movement.”