Chairman of House Transportation Committee gets first-hand look at 57/60-freeway interchange

Traffic flows through the interchange of the 60 and 57 freeways in Diamond Bar April 5, 2012. A congressional hearing is being held on the $265 million project. (SGVN/Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb/SVCITY)

DIAMOND BAR — The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee got a firsthand look at the 57/60 freeway interchange on Tuesday, 2.5 miles of dangerous lane alignments that have 600 accidents a year and is ranked the seventh most congested interchange in the United States.

As he stood on Grand Avenue overlooking the unusually combined portion of the two major freeways, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., got a sense of the third-worst traffic spot in the state, even while remarking on Southern California’s ideal weather.

But what impressed Shuster most was the scaled-down fix presented to him by the cities of Industry and Diamond Bar during a meeting at Diamond Bar City Hall hosted by Rep. Ed Royce, R-Rowland Heights, also a member of the committee.

“I appreciate you are trying to solve the problem without breaking the bank,” Shuster said.

The projected cost is $265 million and will include separate fixes that will add lanes by preventing the lane drop-offs that cause bottlenecks. Over the 2.5 miles, 16 lanes of freeway traffic get squeezed into 12. The improvements included creation of a bypass lane to reduce the need for motorists to cross several lanes as they exit or enter the freeway at Grand Avenue.

The project calls for construction of an eastbound bypass ramp, which would run under the 57 Freeway and take traffic exiting the 60 directly to Grand.

A new eastbound loop on-ramp would connect Grand to the 60 and eliminate the need for left turn lanes. The westbound off-ramp at Grand would be widened and relocated about 100 feet north. Plans also include construction of a new 2,500-foot auxiliary lane on southbound 57 as it merges with the 60. The third lane would eliminate the bottleneck that is created when the southbound 57 drops from three lanes to two.

The Grand overpass would get higher and wider to accommodate four lanes in each direction. It also would feature a new westbound on-ramp. Project Engineer Wei Koo said after all the improvements are built, the average traffic speeds will increase from 17 mph to 57 mph.

“We will essentially have a free flow of traffic,” he said. Originally, Caltrans wanted to separate the two roadways by building a second deck. That would have cost around $800 million. The environmental documents for the first phase will be finished in a month, but the project is not listed for funding by Metro until 2028, said Diamond Bar City Engineer David Liu.

Royce invited Shuster to see the interchange for himself in an effort to add federal funding to the mix, perhaps as a way to speed up construction.

Traffic flows through the interchange of the 60 and 57 freeways in Diamond Bar April 5, 2012. A congressional hearing is being held on the 265 million project. (SGVN/ Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb)

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