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Part of Interchange to Reopen Thursday


The earthquake-shattered interchange between the southbound Antelope Valley Freeway and the northbound Golden State Freeway is scheduled to reopen Thursday, leaving just one reconstruction project at the same site to be completed before the region's freeway system returns to full strength.

The final project--the transition from the southbound Golden State to the northbound Antelope Valley--should be completed in early November, Caltrans spokesman Jim Drago said Tuesday.

Although the two connectors were part of the same work contract, Drago said the state Department of Transportation wanted to make the first interchange available to motorists as soon as repair was done. Since the Jan. 17 earthquake, commuters accustomed to using those connectors have had to navigate surface streets to reach their destination freeways.

The other transitions at the junction--north to north and south to south on the two freeways--were reopened in July. Caltrans focused its initial rebuilding efforts on those two interchanges because they are more heavily used than the ones due to open Thursday and next month.

Completion of the remaining project will mark the end of Caltrans' $300-million post-quake reconstruction effort, although retrofitting of bridges will continue. The downed Santa Monica Freeway was restored in April; the Golden State Freeway above Gavin Canyon came on line in May, and the Simi Valley Freeway was fully reopened in September.

The Santa Monica and Golden State projects netted hefty bonuses for the contractors opening them earlier than scheduled.

F. C. I. Constructors of San Diego, the contractor for the current project at the Golden State-Antelope Valley junction, can earn an extra $20,000 for each day it opens the final interchange in advance of the scheduled Nov. 6 completion date. An equal amount would be deducted from the firm's $13.2-million contract for each day it exceeds the deadline.

Work at the interchange has been precarious because of the height of the bridges, which tower more than 100 feet in some spots. The canyon terrain also makes access difficult for supply trucks.

In July, the state Legislature renamed the entire interchange in memory of Clarence Wayne Dean, the Los Angeles police officer who was killed there shortly after the quake when his motorcycle went off the collapsed freeway in the pre-dawn darkness.

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