Caltrans reopens I-5 lane in Castaic to avoid holiday traffic nightmare

Drivers sit in standstill traffic on the northbound 5 freeway at McBean Parkway in Valencia. Holiday traffic snarled the 5 freeway for much of the Thanksgiving Weekend. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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To avoid a return to the nightmare of Thanksgiving weekend traffic, Caltrans is reopening the closed-for-construction lane on Interstate 5 in Castaic just in time for the Christmas weekend traffic.

The California Department of Transportation announced Monday that it has accelerated pavement repair on the northbound No. 3 lane of I-5 in Castaic to provide all four lanes through the construction zone to accommodate holiday traffic.

“While reopening the lane will improve traffic flow through Castaic and Santa Clarita, Caltrans recommends that motorists consider adjusting travel times or taking alternate routes — such as U.S. 101 and State Route 14,” Caltrans District 7 Director John Bulinski said in a news release issued Monday.

Like most holidays, motorists should expect delays because there will be above-normal traffic on the highly traveled I-5 corridor, he said.

The CHP is expected to enforce the speed limit of 55 mph in the construction zone, where traffic fines are doubled, Bulinski said.

Caltrans is working with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the area, on developing an emergency traffic circulation plan in Castaic.

Last week, county supervisors motivated by the traffic jam witnessed Thanksgiving weekend through the Grapevine and along Interstate 5 have called for an emergency mobility action plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“Recognizing that Castaic and Santa Clarita Valley traffic issues are a serious concern, my office and Caltrans are collaborating to find meaningful solutions and lessen the travel issues experienced in the community and by motorists in general,” Barger was quoted as saying in the Caltrans news release.

The $171 million I-5 Roadway Rehabilitation Project extends nearly 16 miles in and near the city of Santa Clarita, from south of State Route 14 to north of Lake Hughes Road. It is on schedule and is expected be completed next summer, weather permitting.

Caltrans is aiming to avoid the heavy traffic congestion that occurred in three northbound lanes over the Thanksgiving holiday, when thousands of motorists spent more than one hour traveling a few miles.

Before traveling, motorists are encouraged to check road conditions at Caltrans’ Quickmap,

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