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Money for HOV lane is approved

State commissioners vote to approve $73 million in funds to build carpool lane.

March 03, 2007|By Ryan Vaillancourt

GLENDALE — The California Transportation Commission on Wednesday set aside $73 million in state transportation funds for the construction of a carpool lane that will widen a stretch of the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway between Glendale and Burbank.

The lane stands to ease congestion on a portion of highway between the Ventura (134) Freeway and the Hollywood (170) Freeway, said former Glendale Mayor Larry Zarian, a member of the commission.

He touted the commission's vote, which was unanimous, as a "tremendous victory."

Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver lauded the efforts of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who lobbied hard for transportation funds in Sacramento, Weaver said.

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"Too long the city of Glendale has been the stepchild of funding," Weaver said. "It's time for the city and the San Fernando Valley to get their share."

The nine-member commission nearly passed the project over.

Commission staff had earlier recommended against approving funding for the new lane, Zarian said, but the commission ultimately opted to support the project after local leaders launched a lobbying campaign targeted to get more funds for local county projects.

The new lane was one of seven projects submitted to the commission by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

But only the northbound car pool lane and two other projects won commission approval. The other two projects that were approved also call for carpool lanes — one on the southbound Golden State Freeway, between the Orange County line and the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway, and the other on the northbound San Diego (405) Freeway.

In total, the MTA was awarded about $1.2 billion, the bulk of those funds going toward the southbound Golden State Freeway lane and the San Diego Freeway project.

The funds are part of $19.9 billion in infrastructure bonds set aside by Proposition 1B, which voters in approved in November. Of that money, the commission allotted $4.5 billion for corridor mobility improvements — which include improvements and construction of roads. The rest of the $4.5 billion went to transportation agencies and projects throughout the state.

Requests for portions of the $4.5 billion allocated on Wednesday came from throughout the state and amounted to about $12 billion, Zarian said.

The $73 million for the carpool lane on the 5 is only part of the project's $606-million price tag, however.

The MTA will have to come up with the difference, including possibly tapping federal funds, Zarian said.

Construction of the new lane is planned for 2008, Zarian said.

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