Transportation authorities tomorrow will mark the opening of a new elevated HOV Lane Connector, just south of Santa Clarita. Southland motorists who travel the car pool lanes can now merge between I-5 and SR-14 without coasting into regular traffic.
Kelly Markham with Caltrans District 7 says if you haven’t seen the structure yet, look up.
“It’s about 15 stories tall," says Markham. "So it’s one of those huge arching connectors that sort of makes you feel like you’re flying over the landscape when you use it.”
Cars have been rolling down the two-lane, half-mile HOV connector since Christmas. It paves the way for carpoolers between LA and the high desert cities of Lancaster and Palmdale.
“Folks who do use the carpool lane at that location will save about a minute per mile so that’s a significant savings,” Markham says.
Carpool drivers likely won’t hit their brakes while crossing the connector from the 5 onto the Antelope Valley Freeway and vice versa.
Markham predicts single motorists will see some benefit, too.
“If you take a car out of the mixed flow lanes - that’s also known as the regular lanes - and put them in the carpool lane, that’s going to free up space in those mixed flow lanes which is going to make commuting easier for everyone.”
Authorities say just how much congestion the HOV connector will ease overall is anyone’s guess right now.
More than 350,000 drivers pack the I-5/SR-14 interchange in North LA County every day.
Transportation crews are still touching up the connector.
"We’ve got to put down the permanent striping - the thermal plastic striping," Markham explains. "Unfortunately, the temperature has to be consistently above 50 degrees before we can do that and it’s been getting cold up there at night."
The HOV connector project is part of a $175 million plan that began four years ago to add carpool lanes in both directions near the area, build retaining walls, widen the West Sylmar overhead bridge and extend the Sierra Highway undercrossing.
Southland leaders will gather beneath the connector for a ribbon-cutting event Friday morning at 10.