Barger calls on governor, public officials to expedite I-5 construction

CalTrans officials survey the damage done to the I-5 as a result of the #RouteFire in Castaic. Photo courtesy of CalTrans

In an open letter sent out on Thursday, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to “urgently allocate any and all needed resources” to Caltrans in order to allow the roadway construction causing massive traffic delays in Castaic to be quickly completed.  

Barger also directed the L.A. County Department of Public Works to establish local access only for roadways surrounding the Interstate 5 construction in order to “help keep residents mobile while closures are in place.”  

The letter from Barger comes on the heels of Caltrans announcing this week it they would be conducting full, overnight closures of the northbound side of Interstate 5 next week, preventing all through traffic from north of Lake Hughes Road to Templin Highway.  

Caltrans officials said that the original plan was to close only two lanes in order to pave the inside shoulder of the freeway — thereby giving future commuters an additional lane — for nearly 2 miles.  

However, due to the Route Fire that burned in Castaic last week causing significant damage to the roadway, the remaining two lanes had to be closed as well in order to prevent further stress on the roadway’s retaining walls. 

“These closures are already having a cascading effect on intercity travel, triggering goods movement delays, and creating crippling traffic jams on local streets,” Barger said in her letter to Newsom, later adding: “I am concerned that without additional resources from the state, this emergency project may drag on, persisting into and through the upcoming holiday season.” 

In a separate letter addressed specifically to Castaic residents and community members, Barger said that state support was critical to quickly finishing the repairs due to state agencies being the main agencies involved in the I-5 construction work.  

Additionally, the supervisor reassured residents that she would be introducing a motion during next week’s county Board of Supervisors meeting to “immediately expedite all plans in development” in order to “alleviate the burden of traffic congestion” on The Old Road during the repair work. It also calls on county officials to develop a management system with state and local agencies to better coordinate traffic flows in the event of an emergency affecting the I-5.  

The first phase of the local I-5 construction was completed Friday morning and involved Caltrans constructing a temporary third lane that could be functional by next week. The second phase will take place each night from Sept. 11 to Sept. 15, and all northbound lanes will be closed each night from 11:59 p.m. until 10 a.m.  

After the final stretch of roughly 6,000 feet is completed, motorists will have three lanes to travel on for the northbound I-5 in the area.  

In order to assist motorists, for each night of the closures the turnaround gate at Parker Road — which has been used in the past to alleviate congestion caused by Grapevine closures and other SigAlerts — will be opened to return motorists to the southbound side of the I-5.   

Construction on the road will not end after next week as the retaining walls that burned during the Route Fire were “severely compromised” and lane closures for repairs may take until at least mid-November to complete, according to Caltrans.  

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