With three years of construction coming to a close, the City of Calabasas held a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 27 to celebrate the opening of the new 101 Freeway Lost Hills overpass.
More than two dozen residents and officials attended the event, including members of the Calabasas City Council, Los Angeles County Supervisors and the California Department of Transportation, which owns the bridge.
While most of the work on the $37-million bridge is done, some finishing touches are still required.
“The bridge is open; people are using it. This was just ceremonial. In the next two months we’ll do more landscaping, final painting and the lighting,” Calabasas Public Works director Robert Yalda said. “All the sculptures will have lights on them, so it will look totally different at night.”
The city started planning to expand the two-lane overpass in 2010, but between securing the funds and completing the plans, construction didn’t start until 2015. Now the bridge has five lanes, two bike lanes and a sidewalk. Construction also lengthened the freeway on-ramps and added an 1,800-foot-long sound wall and earthen berms to reduce traffic noise for the nearby Saratoga neighborhood.
The lion’s share of the cost, about $32 million, came from Measure R, a 2008 Los Angeles County ballot initiative that added a half-cent sales tax to fund road improvement projects. The county provided $2 million and Calabasas bridge and thoroughfare district fees paid the remaining $3 million.
City Manager Tony Coroalles, who is retiring from his post and moving to Georgia, said he’s watched plans for the bridge develop throughout his 15-year career with the city, and that the architectural style that was finally agreed upon mimics the city’s two other major civic projects from the past decade.
“The idea here was to have it be an echo of the rest of the city, so it should remind you of city hall and the library and the senior center,” Coroalles said. “This thing helps to tie the city together, and it’s probably going to be seen much, much more and by a lot more people than our civic center is ever going to be seen.”
Four of the five major freeway overpasses from Westlake Village to Calabasas have been rebuilt. The most recent—the Lindero Canyon Road bridge in Westlake—was finished in 2014. The Kanan Road bridge, the first to get a makeover, was rebuilt in 2007. The Reyes Adobe overpass followed in 2011. Plans are currently underway to rebuild the bridge at Chesebro Road in Old Agoura.
Calabasas Mayor Fred Gaines praised the many agencies involved in the Lost Hills project and the residents of the neighboring Saratoga community who were the most impacted by the construction.
“(The Saratoga residents) have been involved for literally decades, in the planning and the thoughtfulness and ultimately the implementation,” Gaines said. “They have had to bear the burden of construction, but they will also reap the benefits of this incredible improvement. It’s the most expensive public works project in the history of Calabasas.”
Transportation officials say the interchange is a main access point for drivers traveling to Western Calabasas and Malibu, and carries almost 30,000 vehicles a day.