L.A. County leaders were on hand Wednesday to celebrate their $4 million investment in what the county’s director of Public Works called “part of a larger plan to serve the community of Castaic.”
Mark Pestrella praised Supervisor Kathryn Barger for being a champion of public safety in north county communities and the Castaic area Town Council for its advocacy on behalf of the traffic signal at Parker Road and The Old Road.
He said the addition of state-of-the-art traffic signals at the intersection would be a huge help for scenarios in which drivers are diverted off Interstate 5 and onto surface streets, which often includes The Old Road, as well as improve daily commuters’ experiences.
The intersection already reportedly sees about 12,000 vehicles per day, a number that’s greatly expanded in the event of an area’s emergency evacuation, or as more recently was the case, major construction work.
“It not only serves the commuters from the Castaic area … but also this is a path to the local school here and so we get a lot of parents and kids utilizing this intersection,” Pestrella said, adding the intersection is one the county has watched for a number of years.
What pushed the demand over the top, he said, was the increasingly frequent nature of the Interstate 5 closures in recent years, which disproportionately affected the local community at the intersections near the freeway.
“So this signal is a part of a larger plan to, one, serve the community of Castaic, but also manage the impacts of the I-5 freeway as a main corridor in and out of Los Angeles,” he said.
“The improvement at this intersection is actually huge,” said Capt. Ed Krusey of the California Highway Patrol’s Newhall area office. “Not only does it signalize, but it also gives dedicated left-turn lanes for both east and west, which will reduce the conflict of going both directions.”
As someone who’s been familiar with the area since about 1996 and in command there for almost a decade, Krusey said he’s spent “many hours” directing traffic at that intersection.
Pestrella said the new signal also adds a number of technical capabilities to the county’s tools for its traffic center in Alhambra.
With the new signals, if there is an incident on I-5, engineers will be able to recalibrate the timing in response to increased volumes. The new signals also have the capability to send video back to the county in real time.
“So if we had a fire up here and we wanted people to use a certain direction, we could time this light remotely along with the others that are being installed in this area, so that we can move traffic in an evacuation situation,” Pestrella said, “or just in the daily scheme of things when things back up or there’s an accident in the 5, it allows us to make adjustments remotely.”