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The most recent storm has once again highlighted the inefficiency and bureaucratic mess that is CalTrans. Maybe you saw it on the news or were stuck in it, when the I-5 south bound traffic had to be diverted off to the south 170 Hollywood Freeway due to flooding at one of the underpasses. This is not the first time, nor last, that severe flooding at these same freeway underpasses has occurred. The flooding keeps happening at these locations and yet CalTrans can’t seem to fix the problem.

On Friday, I had some meetings in Burbank and drove the freeways down and back at mid-day during some of the worst downpours. There was flooding in the car-pool (HOV) lanes along parts of the 170 freeway. These are relatively new HOV lanes that had the center dividers replaced with drainage channels installed. Yet the drainage is not working properly.

Our tax dollars are being wasted on inefficient operations and spent on projects that don’t do what they are supposed to do. If a drainage system is designed and installed, it is reasonable to expect that system to be maintained and function properly when it is needed. Don’t we all expect to have work done that meets the required specifications? Of course we do and the state should be no different. There should be no excuses if these systems are installed and maintained properly then they should do the job.

The outrageousness of what happened on the I-5 on Friday warrants a full inquiry into CalTrans and what exactly they are doing to mitigate these trouble spots that have been there for years. The fact that every time there has been a heavy rain these same areas cause severe traffic jams is enough to look into exactly why they have not been fixed. They should and must be taken care of immediately.

The underpass on the I-5 just south of the 170 floods every time there is a rain storm. With a wash channel nearby, it is beyond me that they are unable to run a pipe to it in order to drain the excess water build up at that particular spot. If needed, install a small pumping station to pump the water out through that pipe—do something. Shutting down one direction of the main North/South freeway artery for the State of California should not be an option, especially at the start of a holiday weekend.

CalTrans needs to be held to a higher standard for the responsible stewardship of taxpayer’s dollars. The work that they do and the contracts that they oversee must be done with the best interests of state residents in mind and currently they are not based on Friday’s disastrous traffic jams.  

Initiating hearings at the state level on this topic is something that Assemblyman Dante Acosta and Senator Scott Wilk should spearhead. The idiocy of these freeway trouble spots and Caltrans’ inaction crosses party lines and is affront to all state tax payers. Acosta and Wilk should bring together a coalition of assembly and senate representatives from the area and launch an investigation into CalTrans and these recurring freeway flooding problems. The public deserves roadways that don’t shutdown when it rains. It’s that simple.

Dave Bossert- Commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on several boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.