The traffic congestion that is currently plaguing northbound Interstate 5 in the Castaic area prompted Supervisor Kathryn Barger to introduce a motion at Tuesday’s Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting to create an emergency action plan.
“Currently, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is implementing a road surface rehabilitation project between Newhall and Castaic on the I5 and an important capacity enhancement project will begin shortly thereafter,” the motion said. “The end result will be a much safer and efficient movement of people and goods through the region but the area will continue to experience challenging conditions for the foreseeable future.”
However, the rehab project, along with last weekend’s record number of holiday commuters – the highest in the metropolitan Los Angeles area in the past 15 years – made navigation for Castaic residents nearly impossible. During heavily impacted commutes, the only way in and out of Castaic is The Old Road. However, at times when the I5 is experiencing an increase in traffic volume, The Old Road is unable to handle the overflow.
Barger proposed a multi-agency partnership that would help devise and implement an emergency back up plan in the likely event of an I5 shutdown due to accidents, weather, construction. A similar task force – the Integrated Corridor Management – set up to improve mobility and the handling of emergency situations, is already in place in the San Gabriel Valley for the I210 corridor.
Those agencies include Department of Public Works, Department of Regional Planning, Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department and the city of Santa Clarita. All would work in conjunction with Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol and report back with monthly status reports, which would include:
1) Identification of strategies to direct traffic where appropriate to ensure enhanced movement of vehicles;
2) Analysis of potential high traffic volume periods (i.e. holidays and weather related events);
3) Development of contingency plans in anticipation of these periods;
4) Consideration of potential chokepoints related to highway construction;
5) Solicitation of feedback from the Castaic Area Town Council and West Ranch Town Councils;
6) Enhanced communication plans in anticipation of, or in response to major disruptions.