I-5 widening, improvements may start this summer

Vehicles on the northbound Interstate 5 Freeway are bumper-to-bumper, as well as on surrounding streets in Castaic. Dan Watson/The Signal

Construction on the Interstate 5 corridor in the Santa Clarita Valley may start as early as this summer, pending approval from Metro’s board of directors Thursday.  

The $679 million project is meant to accommodate for expected population growth, according to a Metro report on the project. The report also noted the project seeks to improve the mobility of people and freight over the 13.9-mile stretch on I-5 between the Highway 14 junction and Parker Road in Castaic. 

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, which has worked in collaboration with the state’s Department of Transportation, plans to realize these improvements through the addition of an HOV lane in each direction, the extension of trucking lanes, additional traffic lanes, widening seven bridges and replacing the Weldon Canyon Bridge. 

“This project has been many years coming and was deemed to be one of the highest-priority projects by north (Los Angeles) County during the bottom-up Measure M process,” said county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the SCV, during a Metro Board Construction Committee meeting last Thursday. Barger is a member of the Metro board’s construction committee, which recommended the project’s approval to the Metro board. 

Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by county voters in 2018, would account for a little more than half of the funding requested for the corridor improvements. Local, state and federal revenues contribute to the total budget, which includes an unallocated $101 million for potential risks related to the construction.  

At the committee meeting, Barger acknowledged Victor Lindenheim, who has helped lead the effort to realize these improvements since the early 2000s through the Golden State Gateway Coalition. The coalition was formed to advocate for “smart growth and planning” in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to Lindenheim.  

“It’s taken 17-18 years to get to where we are,” Lindenheim told The Signal. “A lot is being done to prepare for this construction project.” 

Lindenheim added that part of the preparatory work includes public outreach, a point of emphasis for Barger at Thursday’s construction committee meeting. 

“This particular area has endured a lot of construction, particularly related to impacts over the last several years. So please ensure your communication with the stakeholders is open, regular and robust,” Barger told Metro staff. “And please ensure you include our town councils and unincorporated areas.” 

Metro will consider three bids from construction companies to build the project. Skanska Construction and Santa Clarita’s C.A. Rassmussen Inc. together submitted the highest proposal at $513.6 million. Flatiron Security Paving submitted a bid of $406 million, while OHL placed the apparent lowest bid of just under $390 million. 

“Metro is still in the process of evaluating all of the bids to see if they meet all of the qualifications,” said Brian Hass, a communications manager at Metro. “The contract is awarded to the lowest responsive bidder.” 

A construction contract is typically awarded 30-45 days after the board’s approval, Hass added. 

The Metro board of directors is set to vote on the construction project as part of its consent calendar — a portion of the agenda including multiple items approved or rejected through one vote. The board meeting is scheduled 10 a.m. Thursday. 

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