Delays nearly over for 23 Freeway widening

After years of postponement, the 23 Freeway widening project will finally begin within the next few months, according to a report presented by city staff at a recent Thousand Oaks City Council meeting.

Source of this article – Thousand Oaks Acorn, April 20, 2006

By Sophia Fischer sfischer@theacorn.com

The project will be built in three phases over a three-year period. The first phase will be the construction of sound walls to be completed by the spring of 2007. Next will be the widening of the freeway bridge, to be finished by spring or summer of 2008. The final phase will be the addition of a third freeway lane from the 101 Freeway interchange to New Los Angeles Avenue in Moorpark by summer 2009.

Security Paving Co. of Sun Valley will do the work at a cost of $59.5 million, to be covered by state and federal transportation funds.

A groundbreaking ceremony is being planned by the Ventura County Transportation Commission to formally launch the project. The public will be kept informed of the project’s progress through a dedicated website. Residents within 500 feet of the project will receive information directly through the mail, according to staff.

City staff is working on ways to minimize impact on Thousand Oaks residents and motorists during construction. Among the streets expected to be affected are Olsen/Lynn Road, Erbes Road, Westlake Boulevard and Moorpark Road. The city has already accelerated or delayed improvement projects on these roads in anticipation of the freeway project.

“Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) may have to do some traffic control on ramps and streets,” said Thousand Oaks Public Works Director Mark Watkins.

The increase of commuters using the 23 has resulted in additional traffic on streets in Thousand Oaks as motorists seek other routes to avoid rush hour traffic on the freeway. The expansion of the 23 is expected to relieve congestion on local city streets.

The freeway widening was supposed to begin in 2003 but was delayed due to state budget challenges that diverted the money into the state’s general fund for other uses.

Landscaping was a concern for several council members. A number of oak trees will be removed to accommodate sound walls, and council members asked if they would be replaced. The project doesn’t include landscape replacement, according to Watkins, but the city plans to work on that.

“Landscaping is a critical concern to the city. We know that as your staff and will keep plugging away at that,” City Manager Scott Mitnick said, acknowledging the already-high price tag. “Caltrans is spending a lot of money to do this (widening).”

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