The Old Road concerns persist

The Castaic Town Council discusses the ongoing CalTrans construction on the I-5 as well as the possibility of expanding The Old Road, February 20, 2019. Caleb Lunetta / The Signal.

Castaic Area Town Council members voiced concerns to Los Angeles County Department of Public Works representatives about the expansion of The Old Road on Wednesday night, contending the county has not supplied them with enough information.

The cost of the project discussed by county officials at Wednesday’s meeting ranged from $43.25 million to $50 million, and county officials reported Thursday there’s an eight-figure budget put aside for the upgrades. 

For years, the council and the community have been looking to the county and state to help get at least two lanes, all the way down The Old Road, according to Bob Lewis, one of two council members for Region 4, which includes parts of Castaic east of Interstate 5 and south of Lake Hughes Road. 

“What I’m seeing from your numbers is that there is never going to be enough money to improve The Old Road,” Lewis said to county officials. “This is not just a community road for emergencies, but it’s used for freeway access for everyone else outside of the community.”

On average, there are about 100,000 cars a day driving on the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, and peak hours have about 10,000 cars an hour, according to Capt. Edward Krusey of the California Highway Patrol’s Newhall-area Office. 

“I’m continually disappointed in hearing the same answers from you guys that this is going to be taken care of and you’re going to fix this,” said Brad Lanfranco, one of two council members for Region 1. “We’ve gotten the same answer for over 10 years, and nothing is getting done.” 

To complete the expansion on the northern part of The Old Road, between Lake Hughes Road and Hillcrest Parkway, Andrew Ross, civil engineer at the county’s Department of Public Works, says the estimated completion cost ranges between $43.25 million and $50 million. 

Council members also questioned whether the expansion would be completed even if the funding was available, said Jessica Chambers, president of the Castaic Area Town Council. County officials did not have answers Wednesday for council members’ questions about a timeline for completion, or what funds were available.

When reached for comment Thursday, county officials said the timeline for the completion of the road project’s state-mandated environmental impact report, or EIR, the first step in any such development, is about 12 months. 

“The Old Road expansion is currently in the EIR process, which is expected to take about one year,” said Tony Bell, assistant chief deputy for county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. “Our office has allocated approximately $100 million to the expansion and we are working with our state partners to identify the additional funding needed to finish the project.” 

The 100 million that has been allocated is going towards the southern Old Road project, between Magic Mountain Parkway and Henry Mayo Drive, according to Stephanie English, senior field deputy for Barger. 

Regarding funding, Phil Doudar, deputy director of Public Works, said additional money would need to come from Metro. In the next month, Doudar hopes to have a meeting with Barger and his team to brainstorm ways to apply or ask for funding from Metro, while assuring the board that this is still a high priority for the supervisor. 

“Why didn’t you have this meeting 10 years ago?” Lanfranco asked rhetorically. “This has been impacting this community in Southern and Northern California for years and years. It’s a choke point.”

With no set timeline or funding available, the issue of expanding The Old Road remains. At the next Castaic Town Council meeting in January, county representatives will be present to answer more questions and offer some solutions, according to Stephanie English, field deputy for Barger.

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