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New carpool lane for San Fernando Valley I-5

March 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Officials wrapped up their groundbreaking ceremony in Burbank Thursday.

Drivers in the east San Fernando Valley may be able to shorten their commute, if they're willing to carpool.

Each day hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks head up and down Interstate 5, and any driver will tell you during rush hour it can get really backed up

"I don't like it because every time it is heavy," said motorist Jose Aguilar. "The freeways are in a very bad condition."

"It's pretty bad actually - in the morning, afternoon, working hours," said motorist Ivan Marjanivic.

Caltrans is hoping to ease some of those problems with a new carpool lane running from Buena Vista Street to the 170 Freeway. It's only 4.4 miles, but when traffic is backed up it is welcome news.

"Sometime I travel with my wife, but most of the time I travel alone," said motorist Rodney Humphrey. "But if there is a carpool lane on the 5, I would definitely travel with someone else."

Drivers will have to patient before using the new HOV; it won't be ready until 2014.

Caltrans officials said they are seeing more and more drivers using carpool lanes.

"In fact we have carpool lanes that are starting to break down, where there is too many cars," said Michael Miles, Caltrans' deputy director for maintenance and operations. "So we have to look at the occupancy of those vehicles and raise them up so they become more efficient."

The project will cost about $70 million, more than half of that coming from the Federal Stimulus Act. Along with those carpool lanes, Caltrans is also planning to make some improvements to the road surface itself.