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Making the Grade on U. S. 101 Is Getting Tougher

September 11, 1986|SAM ENRIQUEZ | Times Staff Writer

The restriping this week of the Ventura Freeway at the base of the Conejo grade between Camarillo and Thousand Oaks has worsened traffic problems for morning commuters headed to the San Fernando Valley.

Rapid growth in Ventura County, along with a two-year Caltrans highway widening and realignment project, has created a "formula for disaster," said California Highway Patrol public affairs officer Matt DeMarco.

DeMarco said two four-car accidents in the five-mile construction area this week also helped cause bumper-to-bumper slowdowns on the stretch of the freeway, where only two lanes are open in each direction.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department has started assigning deputies to direct traffic at surface street intersections in Camarillo because of the increase in traffic as commuters try to avoid the freeway.

"Instead of getting on the freeway, people are taking surface streets as far as they will go," Senior Deputy John Jensen said.

But the Conejo grade section of the freeway is the only direct route between Camarillo and Thousand Oaks. It is part of the Caltrans project to create three widened lanes in each direction, a job that is scheduled for completion in December, 1987.

The highway project, which began last year, stretches from about one mile west of Camarillo to the Wendy Drive off-ramp in Thousand Oaks, Caltrans information officer Gus Martin said.

The number of reported accidents on that part of U. S. 101 has actually decreased in the last year, DeMarco said, although he speculated that there have been more minor collisions. "It's rear-end city down there," he said.

"I've gotten a lot of calls from people who are outraged because they are late for work," DeMarco said. "We would like to find a way to keep the freeways in good repair and to widen them without inconveniencing motorists, but so far no one has come up with a way."

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