Barham exit closure on 101 Freeway in Cahuenga Pass stirs controversy

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A plan to permanently close the southbound Barham Boulevard exit ramp on the Hollywood Freeway in the Cahuenga Pass is inciting anger in some residents, who say they were left out of the loop. (KABC)

A plan to permanently close the southbound Barham Boulevard exit ramp on the Hollywood Freeway in the Cahuenga Pass is inciting anger in some residents, who say they were left out of the loop. It's part of a Universal City expansion plan.

Residents in the Hollywood Hills and Cahuenga Pass are dreading the closure of the off-ramp. Area resident and realtor Charles Malki estimates that the closure will affect tens of thousands of commuters daily.

"When you're used to getting off and your house is less than a mile away, now we have to get off all the way down on Vineland and then come up or sit in Hollywood Bowl Traffic and backtrack. It's a huge inconvenience actually. We're very upset about it," said Heather Siegel, who lives near Cahuenga Pass.

Hundreds of residents are vowing to fight the shutdown. They've created a website to rally support for a petition. Owners of local businesses like 161st Street Pizzeria are in on it, too, saying without the Barham exit, their profits will suffer.

"It's going to be hard for delivery and for the residents as well," said Natalia Gonzalez, who works at the pizzeria.

The Barham off-ramp closure is the result of NBC Universal's Evolution Plan - a 25-year $1.6 billion development project to improve Universal Studios. It includes local transportation improvements with new freeway on-and off-ramps. But in order to make those improvements, NBC Universal says Caltrans has determined the Barham exit must close.

"These improvements were designed by our team in conjunction with the city and the county and Caltrans to protect the community from the growth that's going on here at Universal City. So, it absolutely was designed to take our cars off of the local streets, to make that commute for them home a lot easier," said Corinne Verdery, chief real estate development officer for NBC Universal.

Universal said the plans have been in the works for seven years, but residents aren't buying it. They say they weren't notified and are now concerned their commutes will be longer and their families will be put at risk if it takes longer for emergency vehicles to respond.

"I have not found one homeowner nor one business near this Barham off-ramp that supports and is in favor of this closure," Malki said.

Universal said it tried to work with Caltrans to come up with another solution, adding that the Barham exit will not fully close for another year while new on-and off-ramps are being built.


Related Topics:
NBCconstructiontraffic delaycommutingroad repairfreewayCahuenga Pass
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