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Just Call It Public Input 101

Traffic: Workshops on plans for one of the state's most congested freeways begin tonight.


To gather more public comment on ways to improve the 101 Freeway, transportation officials will hold the first in a series of workshops today.

Transportation officials and engineers plan to present preliminary drawings and speak individually with those attending the workshops, which are part of an ongoing study of the 40-mile freeway corridor from downtown Los Angeles to Thousand Oaks.

The $4.5-million study by the California Department of Transportation has selected five proposed strategies for dealing with traffic on the freeway, one of the state's most congested. These include adding lanes, building an elevated rail line down the middle and improving public transportation to reduce the number of commuters who drive, Caltrans officials said.

A committee with representatives from Caltrans, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city of Los Angeles and the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments is expected to announce its preferred strategy in December.

Some area residents already are rallying those who live or work along the corridor, whose homes and businesses may be threatened by freeway widening, to demand public hearings and oppose Caltrans' efforts.

"People are mad," said Tony Lucente, president of the Studio City Residents Assn. At an association meeting of about 150 residents earlier this week, Lucente said there was "unanimous opposition" to freeway expansion proposals.

Gerald A. Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino as well as the Coalition of Freeway Residents, said the coalition has mailed thousands of leaflets to people along the corridor. "There will be pickets, protests," he said.

The workshops will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tonight's meeting will be held at the Encino Community Center, 4935 Balboa Blvd. Other meetings will be held on Sept. 18 in the Hollywood Senior Center, 1360 N. Saint Andrews Place, and on Sept. 19 at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center, 27040 Malibu Hills Road.

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