Motorists are hoping that a widened connector from the San Diego Freeway to the Ventura Freeway, which opens today, will improve one of the region's busiest interchanges.
A second lane has been added to the transition from the northbound 405 to the eastbound 101. It had been open on a limited basis for the past week as work crews finished striping lanes and installing signs.
Although the extra lane won't cure the interchange's notorious congestion, it's a welcome improvement, said one community leader.
"In my opinion, it was a necessary correction to make. It was a terrible bottleneck," said Ken Gerston, chairman of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.
The $6.5-million project is one of several improvements completed or planned for the interchange, which was built in 1956 to handle 200,000 vehicles a day but now accommodates 530,000.
For years, motorists using the Ventura Boulevard onramp to access the northbound San Diego Freeway have had to cut across lanes of cars merging onto connecting ramps to the Ventura Freeway.
A new project would end the crisscrossing flow of traffic by replacing the Ventura Boulevard onramp with one that would take cars under the 101-bound traffic.
The $38-million project will be a top priority for the California Transportation Commission, which meets next month to consider funding for new projects, officials said.
"It's an absolute priority to get it done," California Department of Transportation Director Jeff Morales said Thursday. "It's one of several projects that really work together to ultimately reduce congestion."
The other improvements that have been completed are a 7 1/2-mile carpool lane on the southbound San Diego Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass that opened in January 2002 and a northbound San Diego Freeway auxiliary lane from Mulholland Drive to Greenleaf Street that opened this spring.