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What Does $1.4 Billion Buy These Days? 18 New Highway Projects.

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With all the bus and rail projects mandated by Measure R and all the bus and rail service changes currently being evaluated, Metro wants to make sure the public doesn't forget about its massive highway program of 18 new projects worth nearly $1.4 billion aimed to largely to improve commuting. While highway construction may seem to go against the mission of mass transit, Metro says the new highway projects set to begin in 2011 will instead serve to enhance mass transit function.

According to Metro, in an effort to not only curb the increase in congestion but also DECREASE congestion, Doug Failing, executive director of highway programs is looking at options like ExpressLanes, Metro's first "congestion reduction pricing demonstration project," offering a system of optional toll lanes (using the roads we already have) for drivers willing to pay to go faster.

Some of what's on the roster:

- Sound walls designed to shield surrounding neighborhoods from the buzz of traffic at locations near the I-405, SR-134 and SR-138.

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- HOV lane on the I-5 near Glendale/Burbank, between SR-134 and Magnolia Boulevard.

- Along the heavily congested I-5 Freeway south between L.A. and Orange County, a series of six project segments are planned.

- I-5/Carmenita Road Interchange will start construction this July (Three additional I-5 projects will begin within 24 months -- one at the end of this year and two midyear in 2012. The last two projects have a scheduled 2013 start date with all projects scheduled for completion by the end of 2016.)

- Grade separation along the Alameda Corridor east at Baldwin Avenue and the San Gabriel Trench at the Alameda corridor east.

And continued construction:

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- Sepulveda Pass Improvements project northbound HOV lane on the I-405 between the I-10 and Highway 101.

- 405 widening also involves reconstruction of on-ramps, as well as three bridges.

Projects in various planning stages but not yet scheduled:

- I-710 south from the Pomona Freeway (SR-60) to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach freeway widening and possibly a separate freight corridor that could be tolled.

- I-710 north gap closure between the I-10 and the I-210

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- High Desert Corridor new 63-mile east-west freeway between SR-14 in Los Angeles County and SR-18 in San Bernardino County.