Walnut, Diamond Bar Officials Promote Interchange Work
By Richard Irwin, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Posted: 03/29/14, 1:28 PM PDT |
Reps. Ed Royce and Grace Napolitano show U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx the problems with the 57/60 interchange.
Civic leaders in Walnut and Diamond Bar say they’re encouraged after a visit to Washington, D.C., to talk to transportation officials about fixing the dangerous interchange at the 60 and 57 freeways.
“We were very well received,” said Diamond Bar Mayor Carol Herrera. “They recognized the need to keep the truck traffic moving through that congested intersection. The delay makes everything more expensive, after all, time is money.”
Herrera joined Walnut Mayor Tony Cartagena and Councilman Bob Pacheco. The trio met with federal officials to push the project to improve the busy confluence.
“We met with Caitlin Hughes Rayman, director of the Office of Freight Management and Operations with the Federal Highway Administration,” Pacheco said. “She was very supportive. She told us our project had a very high priority.”
The local officials also met with the chiefs of staff for Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Pacheco said both support the freeway project.
Project supporters pointed out that they have scaled down the $1 billion project. Original plans called for a double-deck freeway, but now the project will add lanes to prevent the bottlenecks at a cost of only $256 million.
A feasibility study by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2010 concluded that new auxiliary lanes and bypass connectors are the most cost effective solutions.
Reps. Ed Royce, R-Rowland Heights, and Grace Napolitano, D-Norwalk, showed U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx the seventh-most congested interchange in the United States on March 21.
Royce told Foxx that 400,000 vehicles squeeze through the traffic bottleneck every day. He said 10 percent of the trucks come from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Officials estimate that 44,000 trucks a day will use the 60 Freeway by 2035.
“We need to focus taxpayer dollars where they will have an exponential impact on economic growth — our roads, railways and ports are at the top of the list,” Royce said.
The congressman was joined by Diamond Bar and Industry council members as well as county officials.
“Secretary Foxx’s appearance here today, alongside state, county and city officials, shows that finding an efficient and effective solution here at the 57/60 confluence is both a local and a federal issue,” Royce said.
Rep. Napolitano notes it’s also a big safety issue. She said there are 600 accidents a year as 16 lanes squeeze down into 12. This is compounded by traffic weaving across several lanes to get off the Grand Avenue exit or merge onto the 57.
A study shows the 3 1/2-mile stretch of the 60 Freeway is the second most dangerous truck corridor in Southern California. From 2007 to 2010, there were 166 accidents involving trucks in the westbound lanes and 87 accidents in the eastbound.
The elected officials led Foxx out onto the Grand Avenue overpass to watch the busy traffic below.
“This project is shovel ready, we could start if we had the money,” Royce said.
In fact, the first three phases of the project have been fully funded. Phase 1 has begun, adding a $16.6 million westbound onramp from Grand Avenue. Funded with a $9 million grant from the MTA and local matching funds, it should be finished by early 2016.
The second phase will widen Grand Avenue and Golden Springs Drive. That will cost $14 million, with $7 million coming from the MTA.
Another part of phase two will be the construction of a westbound freeway offramp and add an auxiliary lane to Grand Avenue. The $20 million project is fully funded with $9.4 million from the MTA and local funding.
But the project needs $205.4 million more for the freeway improvements and bypass connectors.