County Board of Supervisors examines I-5 emergency mobility options

Multiple big rig trucks drive in heavy traffic on the I-5 northbound freeway due to the #Route Fire burning north of Castaic Lake on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.
Multiple big rig trucks drive in heavy traffic on the I-5 northbound freeway due to the #Route Fire burning north of Castaic Lake on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal
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In light of the Route Fire, county staff look to prevent traffic ‘nightmare’ from occurring again 

In light of the Route Fire in September, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors received and filed a report Tuesday related to ongoing discussions about Interstate 5 emergency mobility options in the Santa Clarita Valley. 

According to the agenda item, the board had approved a motion instructing several county departments to collaborate with state agencies and the city of Santa Clarita to establish emergency mobility action plans in case of major disruptions or closures of the I-5.  

“The I-5, within the north Los Angeles County area, frequently experiences high volumes of traffic, including truck traffic in a geographically constrained area with high population and development growth further challenged by climate change events.” 

Mark Pestrella, director of Public Works, gave the Board of Supervisors his monthly report after convening with the county’s I-5 interagency taskforce.  

“The original meeting was to get started on the first report we have back and just start on the objectives,” Pestrella said. “We certainly need to include voices from community agencies and they will be invited to participate.” 

According to the agenda item, the county will need to identify concerns, alternative ways to address mobility and methods to implement to prevent a traffic situation, such as the one that occurred as a result of the Route Fire, which left commuters stuck in traffic, and impacted SCV residents. 

“Both law enforcement agencies and residents noted in the aftermath of the fire and freeway closures that navigation apps sent drivers on local roads,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th district, which includes the SCV.  

Barger recommended county staff look into Waze for Cities, a program that would allow local jurisdictions to coordinate directly with their teams to reroute drivers during emergency incidents. 

According to the report, the county is looking to enhance and make improvements to The Old Road in order to support commuters’ needs.  

The report also notes several action items to be discussed, taken and brought back to the Board of Supervisors, which includes initiatives to improve traffic monitoring and communications systems, the development of a traffic management plan for the west SCV unincorporated communities, and more. 

“One of the critical issues is the lack of resources for law enforcement’s performance for traffic control,” Barger said. “The transportation, safety and mobility need of our communities need better long-term, innovative approaches to financing improvements.” 

“This will require greater accountability from the department, which has been entrusted to execute and deliver on these priorities,” Barger added. 

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