California’s Worst Freeway Interchange To Be Fixed Despite Funding Shortfall
The two-mile stretch where the 57/60 freeways converge in Diamond Bar, Southern California is known for its mingled freeways, dangerous lane configurations, heavy truck volume and hours–long traffic delays. Now a $260 million fix to the trouble spot is expected to bring congestion relief, with construction set to begin in January 2016.
356,000 vehicles travel through the convergence each day and truck volume reaches 26,000 daily – a number that planners say will increase to 44,000 in 2035. Caltrans ranked the stretch among the top five most congested freeway interchanges in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and the American Transportation Research Institute ranked it No. 1 for delays and truck accidents in California, and No. 8 in the nation.
Because the 60 Freeway carries trucks from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to Los Angeles and Riverside counties, as well as the entire United States, the project has attracted attention – and funding – from local and federal agencies. The City of Industry committed $35 million, LA Metro provided $22.7 million, and the U.S. DOT awarded $10 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding. This project is one of only two Southern California projects to receive a TIGER grant last year. However, despite these funds, the project remains $205 million short.
Still, construction will begin using a phased approach. The improvement project includes multiple fixes centered on using bypass lanes and extra off- and on-ramp lanes to separate vehicles driving the 57 Freeway from those travelling on the 60 Freeway. The first three phases of the project are all funded, but the bulk of the project – which would add bypass roads on the 57 and 60 freeways and eliminate drivers weaving four to six lanes to cross over to the opposite freeway – has zero funding.
John Ballas, city engineer for the City of Industry hopes to nudge funding out of the upcoming federal transportation bill, which sets aside $725 million for freight and highway projects. Most likely though, full funding must wait until after a new county transportation tax measure passes next November.