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Commuter Merisa Duarte says a portion of the I-5 Freeway in Santa Fe Springs gets "really congested." Now, a much-needed freeway widening project has begun its second phase to relieve on of SoCal's worst bottlenecks.
It is one of Southern California’s worst freeway bottlenecks.
Anyone traveling up the 5 Freeway from the Orange County line to the 605 is likely to spend time crawling bumper-to-bumper through Santa Fe Springs.
Help is on the way, but it may take as long as five years before this stretch of one of Southern California's oldest freeways is wholly updated.
Los Angeles County transportation officials joined Caltrans leaders, Federal Highway Administration officials and a plethora of politicians Monday to announce the beginning of the second phase of a six-phase widening project.
Widening one mile of 5 Freeway from North Fork Coyote Creek to Marquardt Avenue will cost about $110 million, and add an HOV lane and a general purpose lane in each direction.
The project will also widen the freeway shoulder, install a concrete median barrier and includes newly-designed onramps at Firestone Boulevard.
This was music to the ears of commuter Merisa Duarte, who admitted this stretch of freeway can be nerve-racking.
“It gets really congested,” she said. “I mean, going both ways you can’t get off anymore at certain areas.”
Doug Failing of the Los Angeles County Transportation Authority admitted it was about time to make these changes.
“This is our first chance in 50 years to come back and really widen this freeway, and add five lanes in each direction,” Failing said.
About five years out from the final product, the construction has already disrupted life in Santa Fe Springs, La Mirada, Norwalk, Downey and Cerritos.
Transit officials have been counseling drivers to be patient, reminding them that the improvements will be worth the pain.
Officials did not foresee a repeat of "carmageddon," which shut down the freeway for an entire weekend as happened when a portion of the 405 was made over.
"There’ll be the need to do some closures," Failing said. "But most of the closures will be on regular weekend evenings – normal closure periods – I do not expect any carmageddons like we saw on the 405."