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SCVNews.com | SCV Officials Question Caltrans Plans for I-5 Toll Lanes | 04-17-2013
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tollcarpoollanesMetro officials are recommending toll roads for the carpool-lane project for Interstate 5, following a staff recommendation Wednesday.

“(The agenda item) is to get authorization to have that as the locally preferred alternative,” said Mark Dierking, Metro community relations manager. “It’s basically to say it’s Metro’s preferred option for expansion.”

The project is far from a done deal, according to Metro official, who say the move is a formality, and characterized the process as about halfway to where it needs to be for approval.

Right now, the project has been approved as high occupancy-vehicle, or carpool, lanes.

Caltrans officials have cited the need for additional lanes on the I-5 but, citing a lack of funds for the project, they say it may take decades to get additional lanes built.

“Metro is proposing to widen the I-5 freeway in the Santa Clarita area in five years instead of 30 years,” said Lan Saadatnejadi, executive officer for Metro’s Highway Program, in a recent interview.

“This will reduce congestion, improve safety and provide jobs to the people of the Santa Clarita and Los Angeles area,” she said.

Metro is looking for funding partnerships for the program because the project, which would cost approximately $310 million, only has about 75 percent of the necessary funds available.

The move is drawing ire from city officials who have said it’s not right to have to charge Santa Clarita Valley commuters twice to have the roads they need to get to work.

City Councilwoman Marsha McLean said she was in favor of improving the I-5 commute, but she wanted to make sure it was done with the consent of as many of those who would be affected as possible.

She didn’t think many people were aware of how far along the process was, and the feedback that she’d heard locally did not seem to be in favor of the project.

“I know it’s a choice, but I just think that we need to find the money to do this without charging people to use the lanes,” McLean said.

Metro officials acknowledged that there might be some misinformation out there about the project, but they were conducting outreach to try and address those concerns and questions.

City Councilman TimBen Boydston objected to a toll-lane because he likened it to double taxation.

“I don’t like the idea that the people of California would have to pay for the toll roads twice,” he said. “The toll roads are being built with tax money — gas tax money. The state promises us to build roads with its gas tax money and now they want to charge us.”

The pay lanes would have a guaranteed minimum speed of 45 mph at all times, according to Metro officials.

If the project receives local approvals, the project will be submitted to the California Transportation Commission in October or November, Dierking said.

The next meeting that will address the toll-lane project will be the MTA board meeting next Thursday at Metro headquarters at 1 Gateway Plaza in downtown Los Angeles.

The building is right next to Union Station, if Santa Clarita Valley commuters wish to make the trip. The meeting will take place at 9 a.m.

Public comment on the toll-lane project also may be submitted via email at dierkingm@metro.net

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6 Comments

  1. SD says:

    SUCH CRAP!! Why should anyone have to pay to use roads we ALREADY pay for. Only the rich SOB’s will do that leaving us poor and middle class folks to sit in Sh*t traffic watching the BMWs and Mercedes supposedly fly by at a supposed “guarantee of 45mph”. Good f&%$ing luck with that. This is just government trying to cover for their very poor budget planning and spending. Besides they have to pay for their ridiculously night salaries (for the lack of actual work they do) some how.

    I’m sorry for the rant but this ticks me off. Why can’t they take the money we pay already and just add a lane. Carpool lanes prove over and over that they don’t do anything for air quality.

    PS. I take the train which I pay a small fortune for the privilege to do.

    • toddC says:

      nice rant but might be pointless to fight this. toll lanes are proving to work in areas they are being tested or used across the country.

      our society needs to fundamentally change, meaning, we need to change the way we commute. for example, more companies need to offer telecommuting options. schools need to change their hours of classes, especially during the morning hours. trucks need to reschedule their hours of operation. what i am getting at is the rush hour commute time needs to change. one of the issues we have is we are stuck in a 9 to 5, old world mentality of our parents’ generation. the freeway system was not designed (another issues) to handle the current traffic flow, especially at key times of the day.

      this article and the comments of our local leaders tells me they don’t get it. santa carita is a commuter city. yet, what has santa clarita really done – more importantly – doing to ease, asset and plan for commuting into and out of SFV and point beyond? offer busses? lobbied for the metro link? not enough. valencia is a master planned community that started in the late 70s or so, back then they knew full well that someday down the road this area would explode with population. ( you know of the proposed new hall ranch development, right? 26k homes off the 126).

      they build it and they will come…

      most people (families) come out here for obvious reasons, but there is another reason: cheaper homes or really less expensive homes as compared to all points closer to where most people work. we all know that the closer a home is to a popular work area ( holllywood, santa monica, etc) the more expensive it is. well, you can’t live out here and then complain that it might cost a little bit more money to get to your office.

      and it’s not just a money thing.

      for example, take the I 5 from the 14 to the truck weight station. how they hell did they not install truck lanes all the way down the hill, across our valley and to the station? they knew there was a massive development going on – a truck lane could have been engineered and built twenty years ago. now we have one of the most dangerous parts of the freeway. there is at least one bad wreck a week on this strip of the freeway that involves a truck and easily a couple of deaths a month. it’s insane really.

      the whole freeway system should be a toll way. it should be more expensive on weekends and off hours, less on commuter times-as to not penalize workers, but to diminish those, i have nothing better to do so i will just get in my car and drive somewhere, people. the freeway system and really our infrastructure does not currently support the population here or in LA. like it or hate, some form of pay as you go, toll or other is coming. it has to. we must change our work habits, and rethink the rush hour commute mentality. adding a lane or two is just a temporary bandaid.

      my two cents.

      • CV Gal says:

        Wow, ToddC, your two cent logic is backward, not modern. Tolling may be coming, whether we like it or not, but it is quite indicative of our government not paying as THEY go. The public-private partnerships, a form of borrowing, have become a creative way for transportation projects to get done but they DO NOT WORK. Toll freeway projects in Orange and San Diego Counties are among many that have failed and the taxpayers have had to pick up the tab for these bad projects. Not just the users, but everyone. Responsible commuters should choose a job close to home but barring that, they should make the least impact that they can. Your concept about charging higher tolls on weekends is ridiculous. You might want to learn more and just say no to tolls. http://www.rooflines.org/3173/6_reasons_to_be_wary_of_public-private_partnerships/

        • CV Gal says:

          Here’s more info about the failed projects. http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/40/4074.asp

        • toddC says:

          jesus. seek out what other cities across the country are doing to relieve congestion, including the pilot program on the 110 inLA. toll roads work. you are more upset, thus base your argument more with the aspects of government waste, corruption, taxes and such with regards to toll roads, which that stance will do nothing to ease congestion. and who’s two cent logic is backwards? really? you write: Responsible commuters should choose a job close to home but barring that, they should make the least impact that they can. — WTF? how many 100k – 150k Plus jobs are available out here in santa clarita? how much do you think one or a couple need to make to afford a 600k house out here? people will need to commute. and commuting will become a much harder experience in the years ahead. wait until your auto insurance company starts verifying your true miles you drive. are you aware of that? insurance companies will soon be requesting visual proof of miles and charging you more for the miles you drive. currently, they just ask you for that number – and everyone fibs. lastly, you do know that the state of california want to tax all drivers per mile, right? of course that sounds so extreme and impossible. well it doesn’t sound so impossible when insurance companies will soon be verifying actual miles driven to write policies.

  2. publictransport@aboutguide.com says:

    I don’t understand this vitriol. If you’re a solo driver now, you can’t use it. It gives you a choice. If you don’t want to pay, don’t pay. I love the 110 toll lanes. I can pay a little money to get there much faster. It’s kind of like saying “why should I pay to maintain my house since I already paid for it.”

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