Letter from Victor Lindenheim, Executive Director, Golden State Gateway Coalition (Valencia):
You may have heard or read about Metro’s proposal to expedite construction of new Interstate 5 carpool lanes by offering optional access to driver-only vehicles willing to pay a toll to use those lanes to save time. Many of us think that it is a good idea, but want to know more. You will have two such opportunities this week. I urge to consider coming out to either of the two scheduled public meetings:
* 6 p.m., Tuesday, February 26, at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex, 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway
* 6 p.m., Thursday, February 28, at Rancho Pico Junior High School, 26520 Valencia Boulevard.
The benefits of the project are huge: a faster commute, expedited goods movement, economic development opportunities, and cleaner air, to name a few. And if we do it sooner, rather than later, the cost of the project is reduced and the availability of funding is assured.
In my view, the choice is this: we can have this much-needed additional roadway capacity ready-to-use by 2019 by supporting the tolling option or we can wait and build the project if and when funding becomes available, if ever. 2040 is the current estimated completion date for the alternate approach.
See the project information below and decide for yourself.
A Proposal to Improve Interstate 5 in the Santa Clarita Valley Now
New carpool lanes are planned, both northbound and southbound, to be added to Interstate 5 through the Santa Clarita Valley.
However, funding is not available to build the new lanes now. The new lanes could be built piecemeal, if and when funding becomes available. Estimated completion: 2040.
Metro is seeking community input on an alternative that could see the project started by 2015 and completed by 2019.
Vehicles with 3 or more occupants would ride for free.
Buses, vanpools and motorcycles would ride for free.
Vehicles with 2 or more occupants would ride for free…except during peak hours.
Single occupant vehicles would continue to ride in the general purpose lanes for free, but can choose to use the new carpool lanes and save time by paying a toll.
Measure R funds (county sales tax revenue) will cover 75% the cost of building the new lanes – – approximately $310 million. The tolls generated over the next 35 years are projected to cover an estimated $100 million funding shortfall to build the carpool lanes. Any excess revenues must, by law, be returned to the I-5 corridor. Any shortfall will be covered by Metro.
Metro is proposing to create a partnership with a private sector entity to complete design on the I-5 project, build it, operate it and maintain it for a 35 year period.
The I-5 project would be bundled with five other ready-to-build projects in Los Angeles County, including a project to resurface the existing lanes from the I-5/SR 14 Interchange to Parker Road in Castaic, and offered to qualified investor/builders.
In a bidding process of qualified investor/builders, a single entity would be selected to complete all six of the projects. Current estimated investment required is $700 million.
$500 million of the investment would pay for the two projects of direct benefit to the Santa Clarita Valley: building the I-5 carpool lanes and the roadway resurfacing of all existing I-5 lanes in the project area.
The I-5 capacity enhancement and roadway resurfacing projects could be completed, and available to motorists by 2019, rather than waiting until 2040.
For more information see http://www.metro.net/projects/i-5-n-capacity-enhancements.