Agoura Hills will improve Palo Comado

BUILDING BETTER BRIDGES


OVER-UNDER—The Palo Comado overpass in Agoura Hills will receive a $13-million makeover.

OVER-UNDER—The Palo Comado overpass in Agoura Hills will receive a $13-million makeover.

City’s third and final bridge update to begin soon

Agoura Hills has come a long way from its roots as a shooting location for Paramount Pictures cowboy movies. The population has boomed, and the city has expanded its infrastructure with better roads and bridges to accommodate the ever-increasing traffic.

Now that the city has finished renovating the overpasses at Kanan and Reyes Adobe roads, officials have set their sights on upgrading the Palo Comado Canyon Road overpass. The two-lane bridge crosses the 101 Freeway near Chesebro Road.

Ramiro Adeva, director of public works, said the $13-million project has been in development since 2007.

“The scope of work consists of widening the existing overcrossing from 40 feet to 76 feet to accommodate one travel lane and one left-turn lane in each direction,” Adeva said. “(We’ll be) constructing sidewalks, installing a signal at the northbound offramp and incorporating aesthetic enhancements.”

Construction is set to start soon and should last between 18 and 24 months. After it’s completed, the city will have the option to restripe the bridge to add an additional traffic lane for southbound traffic.

When it’s finished, the bridge will resemble an old wooden bridge, incorporating stone and earth-tone colors, Adeva said. The new look was designed by Joe Wertheimer, who also designed the upgraded Lindero Canyon Road overpass.

The project is funded by Measures R and M, a pair of Los Angeles County ballot initiatives that each added a half-cent sales tax to fund road and transportation improvements.

While the city is looking to accommodate increased traffic, some residents think the expansion may come at the cost of what makes Agoura Hills appealing to live in.

Phil Ramuno, a former planning commissioner and a resident of Old Agoura, the neighborhood adjacent to the Palo Comado overpass, is against the expansion. He said the only part of the bridge that needs to be fixed is the limited sightline for northbound cars exiting the freeway and turning left.

“I’m absolutely against the size of it,” Ramuno said.

“It’s kind of like a loaded gun aimed at us. When you allow for the capacity of traffic, then it’s just a matter of time before someone wants to put up condos and highrises because we have the capacity to support it.”

Ramuno said the city consulted with Old Agoura residents about the proposed design, and he’s pleased the overpass will resemble a wooden bridge. But he’s concerned the project will increase the encroachment on Old Agoura.

Expanding the bridge to accommodate more traffic would inevitably require the city to replace the four-way stop sign at the entrance to Old Agoura with a stoplight, Ramuno said, which would ruin the rural aesthetic that he and so many other residents enjoy.

Adeva declined to comment on future projects that may result from the bridge expansion.

“We wanted (the bridge) to reflect the ambience of Old Agoura. Even though it’s not going to be wood siding, it’s going to look like it,” Ramuno said. “We don’t mind people coming into our neighborhood. We have a state park; we invite people to come in. It’s just a matter of losing what we have that we’re worried about. If you build it, they will come, and that’s what we’re afraid of.”