By Hasan Ikhrata, October 29, 2014
Southern Californians spend 3 million hours a year stuck in traffic,
through it probably feels like more for anyone forced to navigate the
confluence of the 57 and 60 freeways in the San Gabriel Valley on a
Ranked as the nation’s seventh worst highway
bottleneck in the nation by the American Transportation Research
Institute, the 57/60 epitomizes the daunting challenges Southern
California faces in moving people and goods throughout our growing
The tangled, two-mile stretch near Diamond Bar and the
city of Industry merges two freeways into one, compressing 17 lanes into
14 and racking up more than 600 accidents a year from among the 340,000
vehicles a day that pass through it.
Fixing it is a major priority for our region, and to that end,
the U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded a $10 million
grant, unlocking another $27.2 million in matching funds from state and
local sources, to begin work on a multi-phase realignment of the
The overall project will cost $256 million — money
well spent when you consider both the quality-of-life and economic costs
of doing nothing.
With 18 million people, more than all but four
entire states, Southern California will see its population grow by
another 4 million over the next 21 years — compounding congestion and
air-quality challenges that already rank among the most difficult in the
Pivotal to all of this are the importance of goods movement to
Southern California and the role of the 57/60 as a trade gateway, not
just for the region but the country as a whole.
Though we don’t
always think of ourselves as a manufacturing center, the six counties
that comprise the Southern California Association of Governments’ region
in fact represent the nation’s third largest, behind only the states of
California and Texas. Combine that with our having the largest
container port complex in the U.S. and neighboring Mexico’s emergence as
a global trade partner, and it’s no wonder that goods movement and
related industries now comprise one-third of all jobs and economic
activity in our region.
Today, approximately 1.5 billion tons of goods are moved through
Southern California each year, with 24,000 to 30,000 trucks a day
traveling the 60 Freeway alone. According to published reports, traffic
congestion regularly delays one of every five commercial trucks in the
region, increasing the cost of shipping by 50 percent to 250 percent.
in projects such as the 57/60 confluence is, therefore, good business.
SCAG’s most recent Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities
Strategy identified $524 billion in vital mobility improvements over the
next 25 years, and found a return on investment of $2.90 for every
In the case of this project specifically, estimates are that
5,100 jobs will be created over its life. Construction could begin as
early as next year on the first phase — a dedicated westbound on-ramp to
the 60 Freeway from Grand Avenue. Subsequent phases include widening
Grand Avenue and Golden Springs Drive, a westbound off-ramp and
auxiliary lane from the 60 to Grand Avenue, and more than $200 million
in freeway improvements and by-pass connectors.
these improvements are expected to reduce the accident rate by at least
160 annually, and 3,200 to 3,300 over the next 20 years.
We applaud the Department of Transportation’s awarding of $10
million through its Transportation Investment Generating Economic
Recovery (TIGER) grant program, and thank all of the stakeholder groups
that have already committed funding to this essential project. These
include the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority,
the city of Industry and the Federal Regional Surface Transportation
Their commitment not only will begin to fix one of the
worst highway bottlenecks in the country, but have a lasting positive
impact on the economy and quality of life throughout our region.
Hasan Ikhrata is executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments.