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Airport braces for ramp closures

Officials will try to inform passengers about long-term freeway work.

April 08, 2011|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

Bob Hope Airport is gearing up for a massive outreach and coordination effort with state and city officials as it attempts to minimize the impact of years of planned ramp closures up and down Interstate 5 set to begin next week.

In March, Burbank officials signed off on a massive $700-million state construction project for the Golden State (5) Freeway that will bring major traffic disruptions through 2015 as crews realign the ramps to accommodate new carpool lanes.

“All of [the closures] are going to have dramatic impacts on how travelers reach the airport,” principle city transportation planner David Kriske said Monday at a Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority meeting.

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Northbound drivers on the I-5 will see flashing lights Tuesday marking the first of many detours, as crews close the Hollywood Way off-ramp — a primary artery to the airport from the freeway.

According to a traffic study by the airport, 55% of the traffic to the airport comes from people using the Hollywood Way ramp — 29% southbound, 26% northbound.

Thornton Avenue, which brings drivers in from the Buena Vista Street and Lincoln Street exits — both scheduled to be closed — accounts for 14% of the traffic headed into the airport, according to the study.

“Metrolink is going to look better and better when they see what [the California Department of Transportation] is going to do,” airport executive director Dan Feger said.

The Lincoln Street off-ramp will be permanently closed, as will its underpass, which supports Union Pacific train tracks by North San Fernando Boulevard, city officials said.

The airport authority plans to step up communication with contractors and construction crews for its new $120-million transit center, which is set to break ground later this year.

Kriske acknowledged that the early closure of North San Fernando Boulevard would increase congestion on exits that already are very busy, including Hollywood Way, Buena Vista Street and Burbank Boulevard.

“Lots of coordination will be needed with the city and with Caltrans to make sure motorists on the streets and freeway have good signage to get them where they want to go when the usual route is out of service,” said airport spokesman Victor Gill.

In one of the largest of the project’s impacts, the Burbank Boulevard bridge over the I-5 will be closed for nearly 14 months as crews reconstruct the overpass with new on- and off-ramps starting in 2013.

Officials are reaching out to the community and surrounding businesses in the areas directly impacted by ramp closures, Caltrans spokeswoman Kelly Markham said.

Airport officials said they aren’t worried about revenue impacts stemming from the ramp closures, citing the airfield’s convenient location and passenger loyalty, although passenger figures were down 2.1% in February compared to the same period last year.

The airport authority is scheduled to work on a new budget later this month that will factor in the continued drop in passenger use, officials said, even as they hold out for a turnaround.

“I don’t think it’s prudent to bring a budget based on hope, especially after so many months of flat performance,” Feger said.

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For updates, call the Caltrans hotline at (855) 454-6335
 
 

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