By Mary O’KEEFE
Residents of the Crescenta Valley, including La Cañada, were warned in 2015 that the construction on the Foothill (210) Freeway would be ever increasing; however, it does not appear that anyone was prepared for the explosion of traffic that the construction has caused not only on the freeway but spilling onto Foothill Boulevard and Montrose and Honolulu avenues.
Cones and construction equipment line the 210 with exits being closed and opened. The closures of eastbound Pennsylvania Avenue on- and off-ramps through spring has created even more issues as cars exit at Ocean View Boulevard to make their way west or exit at Lowell Avenue to travel east. Most of the traffic, though, exits the Glendale (2) Freeway to travel west on Foothill Boulevard.
The traffic has been a concern for the community for some time but has appeared to hit the “last straw” with the closure of Pennsylvania increasing even more surface street traffic.
“We have been working with Supervisor Kathryn Barger [of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors] and Senator Anthony Portantino,” said Crescenta Valley Town Council President Harry Leon.
He added that Assemblymember Laura Friedman has also been contacted.
Caltrans and LA County of Dept. of Public Works is where power lies as far as what can be done to mitigate the problem. Caltrans only deals with highways and interstates while Public Works covers local streets.
According to Caltrans project manager Reza Fateh, Caltrans has reached out to Public Works and met with their representatives Tuesday to come up with a plan to relieve the traffic congestion.
Public Works spokesman Michael Kaspar said a meeting had been scheduled with Caltrans and other agencies including the City of Glendale.
Fateh was at a council meeting in La Cañada on Tuesday night and heard issues of concern. One of the actions Caltrans plans on taking will be to place signs along the freeways that lead to the 210.
Signs indicating traffic “jammed” will be placed on the Ventura (134) Freeway in Pasadena leading to the 2. There will also be signs at transitions from the 210 to other freeways suggesting drivers take the 5 Freeway.
As for exiting off the 2, Fateh said, there can be signs limited to local traffic.
“The problem,” Leon pointed out, “is that the 5 has construction too.”
Fateh and others from Caltrans will be at the Crescenta Valley Town Council on Feb. 16 to hear concerns of residents and talk about solutions.
Fateh was at the CVTC in 2015 at the beginning of the construction. At that time the cost for the project, including the 9.7 miles stretch from Dunsmore Avenue to Los Robles Avenue in Pasadena, was $148.5 million.”That estimate was given before we had [sent out bids] to contractors,” Fateh said.
The bids came in a little lower, so now with the construction, engineering and administration costs, the total is between $135 and $140 million.
“Twenty-two months have passed. It is a 36 month contract,” he added.
The end date has been extended due to rain. Fateh projects the project will be completed in May or June 2018.
There is $105.6 million earmarked for the construction alone and, of that, $60.5 million has already been spent, about 48% of the contract, he said.
As far as when drivers can expect to see specific areas cleared and completed Fateh said, “We anticipate eastbound [lanes] west of the 2 to be [done] in June 2017. Then the westbound, again west of the 2, to be [done] in September 2017.”
The first phase of the project was to cover median work; the second phase is to rebuild lanes three and four. The last stages will be to close any gaps.
The freeway has not been scheduled for HOV lanes. Fateh explained that is a decision made by the Metro Dept. and not part of the current project.
He said he does think that the recent increase of traffic on Foothill Boulevard should ease when Pennsylvania Avenue reopens on Feb. 21 or Feb. 22.
“Pennsylvania will be open and that will release pressure of Ocean View and Foothill,” he said.
Leon encourages community members to attend the Feb. 16 meeting of the CVTC to find out what is being done and to share opinions. The meeting is held at the La Crescenta Library community room, 2809 Foothill Blvd., at 7 p.m.