Construction Weary

In 2014, I knew all about highway construction projects. I was part of the No 710 Action Committee, a grass roots volunteer group that was working to defeat the proposed connection between the I-710 and I-210 freeways by way of two large tunnels 250 feet underground. I spent a lot of time attending meetings, reading complex reports and digesting data. Ultimately, I learned that large road tunnels are inherently dangerous and that we probably shouldn’t build them in earthquake country. Thankfully, we didn’t.

Back then, in addition to writing for the website, I also wrote a series of blog posts telling readers what was in store for the 210 Freeway corridor and how the Crescenta Valley would be affected. I had discovered numerous Caltrans construction reports with timelines and outlined several of them in the blog: a two-year repaving project for 2014-16, another for 2016-18 and several smaller sound wall segments. People were skeptical about what I had written and I got some pushback. They didn’t believe that it would take four years just to resurface the local freeway and build a few sound walls. As it turns out I was right, and those projects were just the beginning of the construction nightmare we have been enduring ever since. For the last eight years, every single freeway in the area has been ripped up, sometimes multiple times and a few were made even worse. Most of our local streets have also been torn up with “cone zones” at every turn. If you look at the chaos collectively, it is just so unsettling and I wonder whether it will all be worth it in the end.

There have been many sound wall projects since 2014 and La Cañada Flintridge leads the charge with four phases of sound wall segments. We are currently experiencing phases III and IV, scheduled to be completed around May 2023. Sound walls are also planned for the unincorporated LA County and Glendale portions of La Crescenta and will likely be in phases by two different entities. Pasadena, Arcadia and Burbank can look forward to even more disruption with their sound wall projects scheduled for 2022 through 2025.

The western end of the 210 Freeway has had many projects in the last decade. The current one is the 9.7-mile stretch from Wheatland Avenue in Lake View Terrace to the I-5 Freeway. The pavement rehabilitation project is intended to extend the life of the road for 40 years. It includes ramps, connectors, medians, signals and signs. It began in summer 2020 and is projected to be completed in winter 2023-24.

Another project that seems less invasive so far is the Connected Corridors pilot project that began in spring 2020 and will continue through winter 2023-24. This is a two-phase project; the first segment begins at the 210 and 134 transition and continues to the 605; the second segment runs from the 210 at the 605 to Foothill Boulevard in San Dimas. This is the first of 50 such proposed projects statewide that will bring an integrated corridor management program using emerging technologies with the goal of improving mobility.

I am all for better freeway performance but I can’t help but fear Caltrans turning on the already installed rows of overhead signals that have hovered like sleeping giants and causing traffic to stall completely.

There are a few street improvement projects currently underway along Foothill Boulevard and on Honolulu Avenue at Pennsylvania Avenue. It continues to be a challenge to navigate the corridor. There are two other street improvement projects planned for La Crescenta Avenue; one in unincorporated LA County and the other in the Glendale portion. Both will be finalized soon.

Let’s hope that the slew of construction projects is completed before too long, perhaps by the 2028 Olympic Games? Or maybe just in time to break ground on the California High Speed Rail tunnels.


Susan Bolan

Susan Bolan