2013-03-07 / Community

Freeway expansion still on track

Funding plan will go before City Council later this month
By Anna Bitong


CASH UP FRONT—The City of Thousand Oaks has agreed to put up $15.7 million to kick-start the long-awaited expansion of the 101/23 freeway interchange. Plans include additional lanes in both directions and the construction of more soundwalls. 
FILE PHOTO CASH UP FRONT—The City of Thousand Oaks has agreed to put up $15.7 million to kick-start the long-awaited expansion of the 101/23 freeway interchange. Plans include additional lanes in both directions and the construction of more soundwalls. FILE PHOTO Plans for the expansion of the 101/23 freeway interchange in Thousand Oaks, a regional transportation project meant to relieve traffic congestion, have entered the fast lane.

On March 1, the Ventura County Transportation Commission, a body representing all 10 cities in the county, approved a critical loan repayment agreement between the City of Thousand Oaks and the state that could get the long-awaited construction effort underway by the end of the year.

The project, which is estimated to cost $42 million, would add a travel lane in each direction for drivers connecting to the 101 from the 23 Freeway and vice versa. It’s been discussed for more than a decade but the county has been unsuccessful up until now in finding the funds to pay for it.

Under the agreement, Thousand Oaks will put up $15.7 million to get the work started, money that would be repaid by 2016 from the state’s Transportation Improvement

Program. The Thousand Oaks City Council voted unanimously in November to advance the money from its capital fund reserves before millions in state funding becomes available.

The city’s willingness to put up the money will allow the project to move forward, providing a boost to the local economy through new jobs and avoiding potentially higher construction costs in the future, said Jay Spurgin, Thousand Oaks public works director.

The next step for the T.O. City Council is a vote on the reimbursement plan scheduled for March 19.

After that, on May 7, the California Transportation Commission will vote.

After the CTC vote, Caltrans is expected to finalize the construction bid package, he said.

If all goes as planned, construction is expected to start before the end of the year, by late fall or early winter, Spurgin said.

Construction plans include the creation of sound walls on the north side of the freeway between Hampshire and Conejo School roads and on the south side between Manzanita Lane and Hampshire.

Construction is expected to take around two years to complete, Spurgin said.

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