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HOLLYWOOD FREEWAY SINKING, MTA SAYS\Subway-work settling could prompt closure.

Byline: David Bloom Daily News Staff Writer

The Hollywood Freeway has sunk three inches near Universal City because of nearby subway construction - and might have to be closed if it sags a half-inch more, MTA and state officials said Wednesday.

MTA officials said the 75-foot-long dip has developed slowly over the past 11 months across the north- and southbound lanes just northwest of the Lankershim Boulevard undercrossing in North Hollywood.

Workers have pumped grout into the ground to stop the sinkage - which has reached a low point of about three inches along the southern shoulder, MTA officials said.

If there is an additional half-inch of settling, a California Department of Transportation permit will force a halt in tunnel work, said Caltrans District Permit Office Director Ray Hinton.

The freeway itself is being checked daily and is safe, but will be closed if additional sinkage creates any danger for commuters, state and MTA officials said.

"If there's an unsafe area, we'll go in and shut it down immediately," said Caltrans spokeswoman Margie Tiritilli, adding that the dip is hardly noticeable now.

"We are driving over it ourselves to test it," she said.

John Adams, Metropolitan Transportation Authority deputy executive officer for construction, said the freeway depression is being monitored daily by MTA employees as well as subway builder Traylor Bros.-Frontier-Kemper and construction manager Jacobs Engineering.

"We are being careful, we are being safe, we are being accountable," said Joseph Drew, the MTA's interim chief executive officer.

But to critics of the beleaguered MTA, the sinkage of the Hollywood Freeway is reminiscent of a series of subway-related problems - including a sinkhole along Hollywood Boulevard last June.

The collapse there engulfed about half a block of the boulevard, and paralyzed much of the neighborhood for nearly nine months. Tunneling resumed last week.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, a longtime subway foe, said the settling is only the latest example of underground construction problems.

"They're not only sinking the taxpayers, now they're also sinking our freeway," Antonovich said. "They told us they would not have any more problems. We haven't even started dynamiting under the hills (to tunnel from North Hollywood to Hollywood) and now it's sinking at a higher rate than expected."

Jerry Schneiderman, chairman of Hollywood Damage Control and Recovery, which represents property owners along Hollywood Boulevard who claim damages from the sinkhole, accused the agency of being secretive and not making public the gradual sinking of the freeway.

Schneiderman said that property owners "feel it's evidence the MTA can't be trusted."

Renee Greif, a leader of Hollywood Hills residents concerned about the subway work intended beneath her community, said she hopes "the city would wake up and come together and say enough is enough."

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a member of the MTA board, said he wasn't aware of the sinkage problem, but has ordered a review and daily reports, said his spokeswoman Noelia Rodriguez.

"Safety is our top priority and the mayor wants answers," Rodriguez said. "The mayor will be briefed every day on this and he wants answers on what has happened."

Gov. Pete Wilson will "defer to the engineering experts," said Sean Walsh, his spokesman.

"It's not the governor's role to shut down the freeway," Walsh said. "It's the role of Caltrans to monitor the situation and make the right judgment."

Charles Stark, the MTA deputy executive officer for construction overseeing subway work in North Hollywood, said there also is settling at the abutments holding up the bridge over Lankershim.

Though settling there is only 1-1/2 inches, Stark said it "is right at the permit level."

He said the agency is negotiating with Caltrans for a slightly higher permit limit in that area.

Caltrans' Hinton said the request is being considered, and that the settling is "not jeopardizing or compromising the integrity of the structure."

Adams said the sinkages occurred gradually beginning last month as the subway builder began pumping 100,000 to 150,000 gallons of water per day out of the sandy soil near the Los Angeles River so that the work could proceed. It worsened during construction, which included digging a "starter tunnel" just north of the freeway to provide access for the 100-foot-long boring machines.

As the sinkage continued during construction, Adams said, additional grout - chemical- and cement-based - was injected into the soil, hardening into a protective underground "arch" that bears up the soil and should prevent further settling.

In all, 700,000 gallons of grout were injected into the soil, including an additional $1.5 million worth approved last month by the MTA board, Stark said.

"We don't expect much more settling," Adams said. "It's stabilized and we don't expect it to exceed the permit levels."
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 21, 1996
Words:788
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