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Bevy of road, highway projects coming

July 24, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, burbankleader@latimes.com

Federal stimulus funding will soon pave the way for new bus and carpool lanes between the Hollywood (170) Freeway and the Buena Vista Street interchange in Burbank.

The five-year project through the California Department of Transportation is part of a larger plan for the area to not only extend the carpool and bus lanes, but to improve the Empire Avenue interchange, officials said.

"The new interchange at Empire Avenue is something the city has been working towards for at least a decade," said David Kriske, principal planner for the Community Development Department. "It has been a city goal since the 1990s."

The Empire Avenue interchange project will establish a full freeway interchange at Empire Avenue, new freeway and railroad crossings and widening for carpool lanes.

In addition to the expansion from Buena Vista Street to the 170 Freeway, carpool lanes will be added both north and south of Burbank from the Ventura (134) Freeway to Magnolia Boulevard, and from the 170 to Route 118.

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The entire project is benefiting from $41 million in federal stimulus money.

About 184,000 vehicles pass the Buena Vista Street exit both ways on the I-5 each day, and research shows carpool lanes improve commutes by up to a minute per mile, according to Caltrans.

"The benefits of adding HOV lanes in this section of the freeway means less congestion and better air quality for the people of the San Fernando Valley," said Caltrans spokeswoman Kelly Markham.

In addition to the major freeway work, the City Council on Tuesday approved the construction contract for refurbishing Buena Vista Street at San Fernando Boulevard and the Winona Avenue project.

The roughly $1-million project will be reimbursed by the federal government on a monthly basis, according to a city report.

The project will include road widening, installation of signals at railroad tracks, modified traffic signals, construction of catch basins and other improvements on Buena Vista Street, North San Fernando Boulevard and Winona Avenue.

Construction of a rail-highway grade separation at the same location will occur simultaneously to eliminate automobile and train interaction at the intersection, officials said.

"We want to rebuild Burbank interchanges, improve the ramp system and straighten out parts of the freeway and all of these projects are interrelated to improve the infrastructure of [Burbank]," Kriske said.

The Caltrans project is expected to begin as soon as late August and continue through 2015.

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