Funding in Question for Traffic Improvements
By LAURENCE DARMIENTO
If there is one overriding concern about Marina del Rey’s redevelopment it’s the fear that already congested streets will be overwhelmed by traffic from the new residences, stores and restaurants.
Redevelopment supporters point to several projects that, if built, should go a long way toward alleviating those concerns. The two major upgrades are the proposed extension of the Marina (90) Freeway and the widening of portions of Admiralty Way.
But getting them built will not be easy.
The freeway currently ends at Lincoln Boulevard just south of its intersection with Washington Boulevard the most crowded intersection on Lincoln, which is already clogged.
The $14 million freeway project would extend the freeway only 300 feet, moving the terminus from Lincoln to Admiralty Way, a key artery within the Marina.
That would alleviate congestion on Lincoln and also serve as a new Marina entrance. Currently, motorists entering the Marina exit the freeway at Mindanao Way, the site of a huge condominium complex, said Barry Kurtz, a county Public Works Department consultant.
“The project would be a big help to the city of L.A. by improving Lincoln Boulevard and be a better entrance to the marina,” said Kurtz, who is overseeing both the freeway and Admiralty Way projects.
But that project would likely not be completed until 2008 at best, and with the state budget crunch, the date could get pushed back by at least a year or two.
The county plans to submit the freeway plan to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is dispersing state and federal transportation funds, by the end of the month. But none of the projects submitted may get funded for another two years, Kurtz said.
The second project would widen Admiralty Way along its entire length, from Via Marina to Fiji Way, adding additional lanes. That would cost $5.2 million but it does not include additional funds for the required purchase of some rights-of-way.
Again, funding is a problem. Marina developers who create additional congestion with their projects must pay into a fund to purportedly alleviate that congestion, but the fund currently has less than $1 million in it.
“We will be looking for any available funding out there,” Kurtz said.
Another roadway improvement project involves the widening of Lincoln Boulevard south of Jefferson Boulevard from two lanes in each direction to four lanes. That should be completed by the summer of 2006, according to Caltrans, and it has been funded.
That widening is required to offset congestion from the nearby Playa Vista development. The California Coastal Commission turned down a proposal to widen Lincoln Boulevard north to the Marina, Kurtz said.
Don Klein, president of the Coalition to Save the Marina, said he believes the freeway extension and Admiralty widening aren’t needed, except to promote development. “We think that they are just a conduit so they can achieve their goal,” he said.
Other congestion-relief projects on the drawing board in the area are further off.