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Thursday
Feb032011

The 405 Expansion Impacts Sherman Oaks Traffic Congestion…

Anyone living on the Westside or in the San Fernando Valley is well aware there is a major multi-year renovation project underway on one of the country's busiest stretches of Interstate. Between the 101/405 interchange (rated the busiest freeway interchange in the nation by AAA) and the 10/405 exchange (rated the second busiest), Caltrans is building a carpool lane to help move commuters from the Valley to LA and back. The price tag for this renovation, which will widen the freeway by 25 feet, will be at LEAST $1 billion (yes that is a "b") and improve traffic flow from an "F" rating to a projected "D-" when it is finished (freeways are graded for their traffic efficience "A" trough "F"). This project will include demolition and reconstruction of all bridges in the Sepulevda Pass along with the reconfiguring of most on- and off-ramps.

Bob Anderson, Board Member of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, states, "In February, Caltrans will begin major retaining wall construction on the east side of the 405 from Mulholland to Valley Vista.  The construction will continue for at least one year. It will be noisy work that includes extensive pile driving, but most of the work is supposed to be done during the day unless requiring freeway closures. In addition -- and not good news for Sherman Oaks -- Caltrans is setting up a "crusher" site on the east side of the 405 below Scadlock and Briarwood."

Mr. Anderson continues, "They will use this [site] to crush and recycle rubble from the demolished freeway bridges -- which is good environmentally.  The bad news is that the crusher may operate at all times of the day and the work will be noisy. We have been told that the crusher itself is ‘not too noisy,' but the real noise will come from trucks backing up (beep, beep,...) and dumping rubble into the crusher. SOHA has questions why the other two Caltrans crusher sites for this widening project have been located in non-residential locations and why Sherman Oaks residents will be subjected to increased noise pollution for a year."

"As part of the 405 widening project, Caltrans has also decided to relocate the Skirball on-ramp and off-ramp when it rebuilds the Skirball Bridge. The ramp entrances will be moved about 2000 feet south onto Sepulveda. For commuters, this means that all cars using the Skirball Bridge and all cars using Sepulveda to go over the hill will now merge onto Sepulveda at the bridge," Mr. Anderson concludes.

I wonder how much this will back up traffic on Sepulveda, Skirball and Mulholland Drive. Thousands of commuters from both the east AND west Valley use that on-ramp daily to access the 405 into West LA, UCLA and LAX. That means a lot of cars must feed onto Sepulveda before they can access the freeway.

As the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association's newsletter (written by SOHA President, Richard Close) reports, "Caltrans has stated that their analysis shows the ramp relocation will improve traffic flow. However, SOHA and all other affected neighborhood groups (Encino, Mountaingate, Bel Air Crest), the Skirball Cultural Center, Steven S. Wise Temple and many of the schools on Mulholland have all formally asked Caltrans not to relocate the ramps. Our main concern is unintended consequences resulting from the ramp relocation --which no amount of analysis can predict. And, once relocated, the ramps will be there for decades!"

Has Caltrans really thought this though? Will this ramp relocation serve to encourage commuters to use the 405, as intended, or will it increase traffic onto our neighborhood streets as desperate motorists try to find easier routes over the hill?

What are your thoughts?

 

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