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Plans could add interchange

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April 05, 2006|By Chris Wiebe

BURBANK ? A design study is in the works to install a new freeway interchange at Empire Avenue as part of a larger plan to add a carpool lane to the Golden State (5) Freeway, between the Ventura (134) and Hollywood (170) freeways.

The study would determine how to relocate city utilities like underground sewer lines and storm drains to make way for a new interchange, said David Kriske, a senior planner for the city.

An expanded Empire Avenue interchange would provide on ramps and off ramps for both northbound and southbound traffic, Kriske said.

"That interchange is needed to facilitate better circulation between the I-5 and the Golden State area of Burbank," he said.

The utility relocation study would be conducted by an outside consulting firm for $89,640. Burbank has worked with the California Department of Transportation to identify the municipal utilities that would need to be relocated. Caltrans is also working with private companies who have phone or fiber optic lines in the ground near the project location.

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The expansion work ? including the actual relocation of city utilities, expansion of the Empire interchange and the installation of a car pool lane ? will receive almost all its funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Kriske said.

Installing carpool lanes on stretches of the Golden State Freeway with high volumes of traffic is a part of a commitment the transportation authority made to the Southern California Assn. of Governments to improve air quality, Kriske said.

Caltrans has until 2007 to relocate utilities in the Empire area to allow the transportation authority to meet its 2008 construction start date.

Caltrans is also involved in a similar project on the Golden State Freeway between the Ronald Regan (118) Freeway and the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway near Sylmar to make way for 6.2 miles of carpool lanes.

"We do feel very strongly that it's going to save time, money and improve air quality for motorists," said Jeannie Bonfilio, a Caltrans spokesperson. "We look forward to continuing car pool projects in Southern California."

Los Angeles County freeways offer 440 miles of carpool lanes, Caltrans reported at the end of 2004.

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