SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA.com) — Residents who live near the 5 Freeway in Santa Clarita spoke out at a public meeting Thursday night against new proposed toll lanes in the area.
The Caltrans and Metro project to install High-Occupancy Toll lanes, also known as “HOT” lanes, on the 5 Freeway from Parker Road to the 14 Freeway is supposed to ease traffic congestion, as well as raise much-needed money to build a previously proposed carpool lane.
“The plan will also create construction jobs while reducing the traffic congestion that chokes our region and reducing vehicle omissions that hinder our quality of life,” said Doug Arsenal of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. “Motorists using the entire 13.5 miles of the HOT lanes will be able to cross the stretch in less than 19 minutes.”
Residents, however, don’t want to cough up money for tolls because Metro is $100 million short to build more roadways.
“Don’t belittle the way we live because you need to earn some money for the state. It’s not our problem,” said Heather Lucchese.
Neighbors also said they feel the toll lanes are for rich people who can afford the costs.
“Tonight, for the first time, I heard somebody else call it the ‘Lexus Lane.’ People aren’t for this lane. People here in the city are not for this lane,” a woman told KCAL9’s Dave Bryan.
In addition, opponents said officials should be obligated to put sound walls up to protect their neighborhoods if the carpool project moves forward.
“If you’re going to build the darn thing, you better put some sound walls up. And don’t take away from the neighborhoods that we love,” said Lucchese.
Toll lanes aren’t new to the Los Angeles area.
Last November, HOT lanes opened on an 11-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway from South LA to the 91 Freeway.
In February, toll lanes opened on the 10 Freeway between downtown LA and El Monte.