Michael Baker International awarded contract to reduce traffic congestion in Los Angeles


Leading engineering and planning consultancy, Michael Baker International, has been awarded a US$7.6m contract by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to study the I-605/SR-91 interchange, identify improvements, and widen a particularly choked 3-mile long (4.8km) stretch of westbound SR-91 in Los Angeles, California.

It is hoped that Michael Baker’s work on this contract will move Metro one step closer to reducing congestion; improving local mobility and safety; modernizing interchange operations; and minimizing right-of way, environmental and economic impacts. The project spans westbound SR-91 from the vicinity of Shoemaker Avenue to the I-605/SR-91 (Artesia Freeway) interchange, used by 270,000 vehicles a day. It also includes improvements to the Norwalk, Pioneer and Bloomfield local interchanges within the Gateway Cities, a 200-square mile, 15-community region, located in the southeast area of Los Angeles County, and home to approximately two million people. The project approval phase is scheduled for completion in March 2018, with construction anticipated to begin in 2021.

The Michael Baker team identified that congestion in this area is the result of insufficient SR-91 freeway mainline capacity, inadequate capacity of the existing two lane connector for the westbound SR-91 to northbound and southbound I-605, and closely spaced freeway entrance and exit ramps. In 2011, Metro selected Michael Baker to analyze congestion and improvements needed for traffic ‘hot spots’ along more than 40 miles (64km) of the I-605, I-405 and SR-91 freeways in Los Angeles County. The completed US$5.7m feasibility study incorporated 19 different traffic-model scenarios, and included the team’s recommendations to improve five freeway-to-freeway system interchanges, 35 local arterial street interchanges, mainline freeway general purpose lanes, HOV (high occupancy vehicle) direct connectors and arterial improvements through numerous cities.

In the next phase of that project, Metro contracted with Michael Baker to prepare additional study documents for two of the major system interchanges at I-605/SR-91 and I-605/I-5. These Project Study Report-Project Development Support (PSR-PDS) documents included traffic modeling, analysis and geometric plans for 20 miles (32km) of freeway widening for three separate alternatives, including concept cost estimates.

“The significant congestion on the I-605/SR-91 system interchange is expected to increase in the future if physical and operational improvements aren’t made to the roadways,” explained Anna Lantin, Michael Baker’s senior vice president and West Region director. “Our expertise in designing highway infrastructure to reduce congestion, enhance safety and operations, and minimize environmental impact, will ensure ‘We Make a Difference’ for the community and region by improving the livelihood of commuters, and making freeways safer to promote more efficient movement of goods across Southern California.”

Steve Huff, Michael Baker’s transportation practice lead for Southern California, commented, “Our thorough understanding of the project since its inception lets us advance it at full speed. In this way, our unique knowledge of the corridor’s issues and challenges identified in the feasibility study will aid us in analyzing and identifying the necessary improvements.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).