2016-06-23 / Front Page

End date for construction still months away

By Becca Whitnall

The latest Thousand Oaks freeway delay isn’t the rush hour slow down near The Oaks mall. It’s the $37.5-million 101-23 freeway interchange expansion.

Originally scheduled for completion by spring, the project end date was first pushed to August, and now Caltrans expects to be done in the fall, a department spokesperson said this week. Construction began in February 2014.

With much of the major construction done, auxiliary systems are now going in.

Ramp metering system installation and drainage and irrigation work are nearing completion, said Yessica Jovel, Caltrans public affairs officer, in an email to the Acorn. About 50 percent of remaining soundwall and retaining wall construction has been completed.

Over the next few months, construction activities will include profile grinding, striping work and landscaping, she said.

In response to area residents’ safety concerns, Caltrans has examined the Moorpark Road northbound on-ramp and will be adding signage and a ramp meter, which Jovel said will help control the flow of traffic entering the freeway and also ease some of the merging issues drivers are facing.

“The project team is working diligently to implement these mitigation measures, and we anticipate that motorists will begin to notice these changes within the next month,” she said.

It’s unknown whether the latest delay and the on-ramp additions will increase the cost of the project and, if they will, by how much, Jovel said.

“Regarding a project cost, a figure will not be available until after any contractor claims are evaluated and settled,” she said.

In the meantime, the taxpayers of Thousand Oaks, who fronted money to get the project off the ground, are still waiting to be paid back.

The city approved a loan of up to $15.76 million in 2013. Of that, a little more than $13 million has been spent, city engineer Mike Tohidian said.

He said he expects the state transportation commission to approve a reimbursement for the loan when it meets at the end of June.

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