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I-5/SR-14 HOV Connector Project Nears Completion

Wed January 12, 2011 - West Edition
Erik Pisor


The northbound I-5 soil nail retaining wall is constructed to enforce, stabilize and strengthen the hillside supporting Foothill Blvd.
The northbound I-5 soil nail retaining wall is constructed to enforce, stabilize and strengthen the hillside supporting Foothill Blvd.
The northbound I-5 soil nail retaining wall is constructed to enforce, stabilize and strengthen the hillside supporting Foothill Blvd. Soil nail retaining walls are placed along southbound I-5. HOV connector falsework next to the contractor’s yard and southbound I-5 Sierra Highway off-ramp. HOV connector columns located next to the railroad tunnel and southbound truck route. Photos Courtesy of Thomas Ritter, Caltrans
A view of HOV connector falsework that spans over the truck route.

A four-year-long, $156.6 million project aimed at improving traffic operations at the Interstate 5/State Route 14 connector in northern Los Angeles County is 70 percent complete entering 2011.

The primary aspects of the project — dubbed the I-5/SR-14 Direct HOV Connector Project — are the construction of an elevated, two-lane direct HOV connector at the I-5/SR-14 interchange; and construction of HOV lanes in the northbound and southbound directions of I-5 at the same interchange.

Upon completion, the elevated HOV connector will be a 19-span, 2,821-ft. (859.8 m) HOV structure that will connect the I-5 HOV lanes in both directions to SR-14, according to Kelly Markham, public information officer of Caltrans District 7.

The current I-5/SR-14 connector serves as the gateway to Los Angeles for motorists traveling from the high desert cities of Palmdale and Lancaster, and has for years been the site of increased traffic congestion — the result of population growth within Palmdale and Lancaster.

Since July 2008, MCM Construction Inc. and Security Paving Company Inc. have been underway on the direct HOV connector project.

To date, a number of project milestones have been completed including: major retaining walls, most drainage systems, a significant portion of concrete paving and foundation-related work, West Slymar overhead bridge widening, Sierra Highway superstructure (the two-lane HOV connector), and south I-5 and southbound SR-14 Balboa Boulevard off-ramps, Markham said.

Construction of the two-lane HOV connector, which features columns as tall as 120 ft. (36.5 m), required the usage of concrete pumps with 236-ft. (71.9 m) arms during concrete installation.

Additionally, “unique” two-tier falsework — up to 120 ft. high — was built to construct the fourth frame of the HOV connector. This complex falsework spanned over the railroad, truck lanes, and live traffic.

Foundation work for the West Sylmar overhead bridge included the installation of steel cylinders in the ground, which prevented soil from collapsing inward.

For both HOV connector and West Sylmar bridge construction, several 300- to 400-ton (272.1 to 362.8 t) cranes were utilized, along with 15.5-ft. (4.7 m) diameter casings — which were used to install cast-in-drilled-hole piles that were up to 100 ft. (30.4 m) deep.

After 29 months of construction, approximately 10.3 million lbs. (4.7 million kg) of steel, 781,973 cu. ft. (22,143 cu m) of structural concrete, and nearly 450,000 cu. ft. (12,742.5 cu m) of concrete has been installed, Markham said.

The project is currently on track for a late fall 2012 completion, with northbound and southbound HOV lane construction yet to occur.

Aside from the direct connector project, general contractor Security Paving is wrapping up another roadway project within District 7.

Slated to reach completion in January 2011, the $19.1 million project involves the construction of one new lane along the westbound Ronald Reagan Freeway (SR-118) in Ventura County — a section of freeway utilized by more than 115,000 vehicles daily.

The new lane will stretch from Tapo Canyon Road in Simi Valley to the Los Angeles County line, a distance of approximately 5 mi. (8 km)

“This project is a great example of how the stimulus (fund) is bringing in the cash we need to improve the Ronald Reagan Freeway, while at the same time supporting much-needed jobs,” said Caltrans Director Randy Iwasaki.