Ron Modugno | The End Isn’t in Sight for I-5 Traffic

My wife and I have lived in the SCV over 40 years and have traveled Interstate 5 where it passed under the 14 overpass probably 25,000 times. It has been a slow process of increased traffic congestion over the years but congestion has accelerated (congestion, not speed) dramatically the last few years. Although we do appreciate the concerns and optimism expressed by our congressman, our county supervisor, and also Caltrans spokespersons, please understand from where this freeway warrior sits (in traffic) there will not be any congestion relief for many years to come. I have spoken to folks at the Caltrans project office and also Rep. Steve Knight’s office and offer the following for your consideration:

Schedule: The last widening project took about four years from 2013-2017. The current resurfacing project started in 2017 and will complete in summer 2019. The Metro HOV project then starts in 2019 and runs to probably 2022. Somewhere during or after the above a truck lane widening project is scheduled. Eek… that’s at least four more years of construction.

Current Resurfacing: Project appears to be proceeding very slowly. Not usually more than a few workers and/or equipment are operational, and finished sections are not put in service for a long time. Onramps, especially northbound, are dangerous and require careful maneuvering. By the way, you need to be careful of debris. My mama taught me to clean up after myself (my wife might disagree) but there seems to be a lot of “stuff” all over the freeway especially on the edges of traffic lanes.

Number of lanes: There have never been over three lanes in service both northbound and southbound where it goes under the 14 overpass (this has always been a bottleneck). As far as I can tell there is room for only one more lane in each direction unless the pylons are moved, which would require the 14 overpass bridge to be totally redone. Since we will have an HOV lane by 2022 it appears the change will be from three lanes to only three lanes and an HOV lane… I hope I am mistaken on this.

HOV lanes: This was an awesome program to reduce the number of cars on the freeway, reduce fuel, smog, etc. These lanes are starting to evolve from “high occupancy vehicles” to “hybrid only vehicles” and may not serve their primary purpose as well in the future as electric cars and hybrids continue to gain popularity (with a hybrid sticker you can drive the HOV lane without a passenger).

More people and cars: We do have a myriad of housing developments on the docket that all funnel more commuters through this section of the freeway (new projects in the SCV, the huge Newhall Ranch project just off the 126, and the mammoth Tejon Ranch to name a few).

The quandary: Is there a way to accelerate the construction (we did see the huge Gavin Canyon bridge rebuilt in four months after the 1994 earthquake)? Would it not be possible for the HOV lane project to run concurrently with the resurfacing project? Is widening the opening under the 14 freeway in both directions part of any of the above (hopefully not planned to start in 2022)?

So what can we do? I would recommend everyone call our congressman and Caltrans offices. Note that they are very pleasant folks to talk to. Take the Metro train to work (I have done so a few times — quite a nice relaxing alternative except for Union Station). Consider a career alternative that would allow you either to work in the SCV and/or work from home. If you have to drive there are also options. 1. Use your windshield time wisely (I like to download and listen to Christian sermons). 2. Change your schedule to avoid the heavy congestion (I know it is congested almost all the time but for example when I have a flight out of LAX I leave at 4 a.m.).

You can always move out of area, or retire, or do both.

Ron Modugno