This April 5, 2012 file photo shows traffic flowing through the interchange
of the 60 and 57 freeways in Diamond Bar, Calif.
(SGVN/Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb/SVCITY)
By Steve Scauzillo |San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Posted: 09/10/14 | 12:19 AM PDT | Updated: 1 week, 4 days ago
One of the most congested freeway interchanges in Southern California — the 2-mile 57/60 confluence in Diamond Bar — was awarded a $10 million federal grant Tuesday, a move that will speed up a $256 million realignment project.
The U.S. Department of Transportation published a notice Tuesday and alerted Reps. Ed Royce, R-Rowland Heights, Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, and Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, that the project has earned the award from the competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.
“This would deal with a major public safety issue,” Royce said. “It would also help rush goods to market and allow people to get home to their families without sitting in what is the longest lasting traffic gridlock in our Southern California freeway system.”
Known as “The Diamond Bar Crunch,” the freeway from Diamond Bar Boulevard in the north to Golden Springs Road in the south experiences nearly 600 accidents a year and is ranked the seventh-most congested interchange in the United States, according to Caltrans and city officials.
The combined portion of the two major freeways causes motorists to weave across traffic lanes to catch the 60 westbound or the 57 southbound and vice versa, as 16 lanes squeeze into 12. The 57/60 bottleneck is used by 356,000 vehicles a day or about 100 million vehicles a year, according to project engineers.
“From my office in Rowland Heights I can see firsthand the traffic that backs up every day keeping commuters from getting home to their families and bringing trucks delivering trade goods to a halt,” Royce said in a statement.
The DOT notice references the 60 Freeway as a freight corridor, taking 10 percent of the trucks from the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and from the Alameda Corridor to points east. From 2007 to 2010, a study shows there were 166 accidents involving trucks in the westbound lanes and 87 accidents in the eastbound lanes.
Both Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa, head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, visited the site within the past 18 months. Both visits were arranged by Royce and Napolitano.
David Liu, Diamond Bar engineer and director of public works, said the federal recognition was crucial. Two small cities landing a $10 million grant is extremely unusual, considering they competed with larger cities across the United States.
“It signifies that this project has national significance,” Liu said. He believes the two cities can press for the balance of funding — about $200 million — to be included in the next major transportation funding bill which could follow a recent stop-gap measure passed by Congress.
Already, the money will multiply. The TIGER grant will be matched by $4.5 million from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority or Metro, $10.6 million from Industry, and $9.4 million from Federal Regional Surface Transportation Program funding. An additional $2.7 million from Industry for design brings the total collected for the project to $37.2 million, Napolitano said.
The project has been divided into three phases all aimed at reducing lane changing which causes side-swiping and rear-end accidents. Phase One would replace on-street left-turn pockets with a dedicated westbound onramp to the 60 Freeway from Grand Avenue. The cost, about $16.5 million, is funded, Liu said.
Phase Two would widen Grand Avenue and Golden Springs Road and cost $14 million, he said.
Phase Three would add a new westbound offramp and auxiliary lane from the freeway confluence, separating vehicles going south on the 57 to Orange County from those going west on the 60 or exiting at Grand Avenue, Liu said. “With that $10 million grant, we can start looking at construction and combining phases one and three,” Liu said.
He estimated construction could start in September 2015.
The bulk of the outstanding funds would help build freeway lane improvements such as bypass roads and connectors, Liu said.