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HOUSE OKS ROAD FUNDS VOTE EARMARKS $2.8 MILLION TO EXPAND RANCHO VISTA.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

PALMDALE - The House of Representatives has earmarked $2.8 million toward widening Rancho Vista Boulevard to lessen rush-hour congestion from Air Force Plant 42 traffic.

The federal aid would cover about half the $5.5 million cost of widening the boulevard's intersection with Sierra Highway, which is part of a city plan to widen the boulevard to six lanes east of the Antelope Valley Freeway for 3 1/2 miles.

``The most critical component of that project is the intersection widening at Sierra Highway. When the aircraft industry lets out, it's a mess there,'' Palmdale Public Works Director Leon Swain said.

The $2.8 million was approved Friday by the House of Representatives in the $286.5 billion Transportation Equity Act. The bill still must be approved by the Senate and signed by the president.

If the bill gets final approval, Swain said he expects design work to be finished this year on the intersection widening. The City Council is likely to act next year in appropriating its share of the cost in the 2006-07 city budget. Construction could start in 2006 and will take about two years.

Caltrans has provided $309,000 toward the work already, Swain said.

The bill approved by the House also earmarks $400,000 toward replacing two narrow bridges on Highway 138 over Big Rock Creek, $9 million in Santa Clarita for the Cross Valley Connector and $800,000 in the Victor Valley for the High Desert Corridor expressway, intended to eventually reach Palmdale.

``Our roads and highways have not been able to keep up with the rapid population growth of our area,'' said U.S. Rep. Howard ``Buck'' McKeon, whose district includes Palmdale as well as Santa Clarita and the Victor Valley. ``This legislation will help address our area's transportation infrastructure needs, making it safer and easier for residents to get from one place to another.''

The Rancho Vista Boulevard money is less than the amount approved last year by the House. Last year, representatives passed a six-year $275 billion transportation funding bill that included $4 million for the project. However, the bill stalled amid debate between Congress and the White House over the amount of funding.

City officials want to expand Rancho Vista Boulevard between Fairway Drive and 30th Street East from two lanes in each direction to three lanes in each direction with a median.

The work would also include bike paths on both sides. Intersections would be striped with left-turn pockets and, where necessary, widened for right-turn lanes as well.

Palmdale officials want to relieve rush-hour traffic congestion and to position Lockheed Martin's Plant 10 and the neighboring Air Force Plant 42 better for future aerospace projects. More than 6,500 workers now travel to their jobs there along Rancho Vista and Avenue M.

Widening the intersection with Sierra Highway is expected to cost about $5.5 million. Widening the boulevard the rest of the way east to 15th Street East and west to Fairway Drive would cost $6 million.

Widening east to 30th Street East would cost another $6 million.

Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742

chuck.bostwick(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color in AV edition only) Traffic moves along Rancho Vista Boulevard at Sierra Highway, where Palmdale officials want to widen the intersection to ease traffic congestion.

(2 -- color in AV edition only) The House of Representatives earmarked $2.8 million Friday to help the city expand Rancho Vista Boulevard east of the Antelope Valley Highway.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 30, 2005
Words:591
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