A major infrastructure improvement project along Interstate 5 in the Santa Clarita area is expected to speed the movement of goods and people between Kern and Los Angeles counties.
Nearly half a billion dollars in federal, state and local money have been set aside to extend carpool lanes by 13.4 miles between Highway 14 and Parker Road in Castaic. The money will also create 3.4 miles of northbound truck lanes between Highway 14 and Calgrove Boulevard and another 4.7 miles of southbound truck lanes between Pico Canyon Road and S.R. 14.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, helped secure a $47 million federal grant for the improvements, according to a June news release from the agency that has steered the project, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. McCarthy's office did not return a request for comment on the project Wednesday.
Besides the federal grant, the project is being funded by more than $250 million in sales tax dollars, plus $200 million in state gas tax proceeds.
The Santa Clarita area presents some of the worst traffic Bakersfield commuters face when traveling to and from Los Angeles. The congestion also hinders shipment of agricultural and other products from Kern County to ports in L.A. and Long Beach.
Despite expected local benefits, the infrastructure project has gone relatively unnoticed in Kern County. But in L.A. County it has been welcomed as a boon.
When the federal grant was awarded, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the money would ease traffic on one of Southern California's busiest freeways, "freeing more Angelenos from the grip of congestion and allowing goods to travel faster throughout our region."
U.S. Transportation Sec. Elaine L. Chao said in prepared remarks in October that such investments have "cascading benefits."
"Among those benefits will be increased capacity for passenger traffic and freight hauling that will generate economic growth for the local area," she said.
Representatives of the MTA were unable to provide an update Wednesday on the project's progress or an estimated date of completion.