Three months after Supervisor Kathryn Barger proposed an emergency plan following a chaotic Thanksgiving Day weekend in terms of Interstate 5 traffic congestion, the Castaic Town Council on Wednesday heard a progress report from Barger’s field representative, Stephanie English.
Barger, who represents the county’s 5th district, declared the need for an emergency plan after thousands of commuters found themselves trapped in traffic for hours during the holiday weekend, offering Castaic residents few options in terms of their comings and goings from their community.
“(Supervisor Barger) authored a motion to help us look to our partners to help better plan for holiday traffic days and work on our emergency response and also look at Operation Snowflake to make that more smooth when the freeway is closed,” said English. “We’ve had a couple meetings now with Caltrans, CHP, Sheriff’s Department, county Public Works Department, Regional Planning and we’re all coming together to see what we can do about this.”
The plan, although still in the initial development and planning phases, according to English, has seen some victories already.
“We’re looking at some ways to help (commuters) be able to turn around … and there’s been some money that’s been allotted to expand portions of The Old Road and Public Works is doing a study,” said English, adding that Waze, a map app, updated their services to show the up-to-the-minute road closures and proper street names and lengths specifically in Castaic.
However, although English has said that the plan is underway and the relevant departments are making progress, this hasn’t stopped Castaic Town Council members from making suggestions of their own.
Some members discussed ways in which a new housing development parallel to and southwest of The Old Road and Interstate 5, south of Parker and north of Villa Canyon Road, could result in the highly used road being expanded.
“We’re still working on a letter that works with the developments to allocate bridge and thoroughfare funds to The Old Road north of (State Route) 126 just north of Lake Hughes Road,” said Town Council President Jessica Chambers.
As of now, there remains no concrete timeline for all the improvements to both the I-5 and The Old Road, that are two separate issues but what the Town Council has in the past defined as the main outlet for those trying to avoid I-5 congestion, and English is asking for patience as they work through this issue.
“It’s going to take some time, and it’s still in the beginning stages,” English said. “The good news is we’re all coming together, it’s just not short-term.”
At the end of the meeting, the members of the council asked English for the master plan on The Old Road, the plans previously developed by the county, and she said her office would work to facilitate that need.