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State Repeats Request for Traffic Analysis of Ahmanson Ranch

November 15, 2000|ANNETTE KONDO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Concerned that the impact of Ahmanson Ranch traffic had not been adequately addressed, a state transportation official has asked Ventura County officials to update their environmental report to reflect expected congestion on the Ventura Freeway.

In a Nov. 9 letter, Melvin Hodges, an acting Caltrans division chief, repeated a request to Ventura County's planning director first made in April for an updated freeway traffic analysis for the proposed 3,050-home development. The project is to be built just west of the San Fernando Valley, in Ventura County.

Hodges wrote that Ventura Freeway traffic projections came from the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which did not factor in Ahmanson Ranch in its analysis.

"Therefore we must still request the County to update the Traffic Study providing 2020 or 2025 traffic projections for mainline Ventura Freeway and ramps in the vicinity of the project," Hodges wrote.

He could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Representatives of Ventura County and the developer, Washington Mutual Inc., said the Caltrans request was not a serious hurdle for the project, which was approved in 1992 but has faced a series of legal challenges and has not yet broken ground.

Steve DeGeorge, director of new technology for the Ventura County Transportation Commission, said the county recently completed a traffic projection for 2020 that includes Ahmanson Ranch, and would help satisfy state concerns.

But DeGeorge said he had not seen the Caltrans letter and could not comment on the agency's specific concerns.

Tim McGarry, a spokesman for Washington Mutual, said he was confident that traffic projections would be addressed in an upcoming supplemental environmental impact report approved last month by Ventura County supervisors.

"There's ample opportunity to make sure all the data is there," McGarry said.

Susan Little, the environmental deputy for Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), a vocal opponent of the project, said it is critical that an updated traffic analysis be conducted.

The Ventura Freeway adjacent to the project already has an F3 traffic congestion grade from Caltrans, Little said, "which is considered to be the worst possible rating."

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