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Officials count on horrible traffic to make case for freeway funding

They'll gather today at the 10 and 605 junction in an effort to sway state spending priorities.

February 23, 2007|Nancy Wride | Times Staff Writer

For once, state and local officials hope there will be traffic clogs this morning at the junction of the 10 and 605 freeways.

They will be meeting there in Baldwin Park, on the Athol Street bridge overlooking the often-congested interchange, to show state transportation officials the need to fund improvements from $2.8 billion in bond money that will be divided next week.

"I live in West Covina and travel that freeway all the time, and it is a mess," Assemblyman Edward P. Hernandez (D-Baldwin Park) said Thursday. "We are just seeking our fair share."

The bridge will be closed for the 8:30 a.m. news conference.

Joining Hernandez will be Assemblyman Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar); Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who heads the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and officials from San Gabriel Valley cities and elsewhere in the region.

Huff said they hope to draw attention to the congested interchange and to urge California Transportation Commission board members to fund a proposed $71-million project to facilitate traffic flow.

In November, voters passed Proposition 1B, a bond measure that included $4.5 billion for improving the state's worst traffic trouble spots.

Last week, the state transportation panel's staff proposal on how the board should divide the first allocation of the money was condemned by Los Angeles County officials. They said Southern California has the worst traffic in the state and would be underfunded, and that residents here would be paying taxes for fixes they couldn't enjoy. The proposal did not include funding for the interchange project.

Huff said this morning's meeting on the bridge would show the pressing need to unclog the junction. Hernandez said local officials have told him of traffic backing up for miles and an accident rate at the interchange 27% higher than the statewide average for the last three years.

The improvements would create a separate "flyover transition" from the southbound 605 to the eastbound 10, "eliminating a weaving conflict at one of California's most dangerous and congested connectors," Hernandez's office said in a news release.

State transportation panel members will vote to allocate funds after a public hearing Wednesday in Irvine.

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nancy.wride@latimes.com

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