Residents Protest Planned Closure Of Barham Exit On 101 Freeway
CAHUENGA PASS (CBSLA.com) — Residents in the Cahuenga Pass are banding together to try and stop the upcoming closure of the Barham Boulevard southbound off-ramp from the 101 Freeway.
The exit was scheduled to be closed permanently by Caltrans and Universal Studios.
Dozens who opposed the move gathered on the sidewalks near the freeway exit handing out lawn signs and asking people sign a petition to keep the ramp opened. They said the closure would be detrimental to the neighborhood and would make a heavily-trafficked area even more congested.
According to KeepTheBarhamRamp.com, the move "means that thousands of Hollywood Hill residents, business owners and visitors of the Cahuenga Pass, the Oakwood Apartments or Mulholland Drive will have to get off at Lankershim Boulevard or at the Hollywood Bowl exit-adding at least a 2.5+ mile commute through the Cahuenga Pass between exits-resulting in the largest gap between exits than anywhere else along the 101 in Los Angeles County borders!"
"This is a crucial exit for me to get to my house. If this ramp is closed I will have a freeway adjacent home but not freeway accessible. It will increase my daily commute time and lower my home value," said local homeowner John Strozdas, who organized the petition.
Local business owners said the closure would hit them hard.
"I was just stunned that this was going on and we didn't know anything about it," Mobil gas station owner Mona Chahayed said. "We're going to die. The business is going to be dead and I'm going to have to send everyone home."
Corinne Verdery, the chief real estate officer for NBC universal, said thousands of residents and business owners were consulted during a seven-year approval process for the plan aimed at mitigating traffic from Universal City.
The plan is to build an on-ramp from Universal Studios directly to the 101. But because of safety issues with merging traffic Caltrans determined the only way to do this was to close the Barham off-ramp.
"The whole purpose of this mitigation which was the number-one mitigation that the community wanted for decades was to get our traffic off of Cahuenga Boulevard," Verdery said. "This will accomplish that and it will allow traffic in the neighborhood to flow more easily."
If the Barham off-ramp closes, drivers on the southbound 101 will have to exit at either Lankershim Boulevard or Highland Avenue.
Residents and business owners said these exits are simply too congested already.
"It's going to cause a big undue burden for us to get back on this on-ramp if we have to go all the way down and go over Highland Boulevard, it's crazy," said Sean Tabibain, who works in the area.
The petition to stop the ramp closure has more than 1,000 signatures.
Residents are hoping Universal will go back to the drawing board to find an alternate way of building their on-ramp so the Barham off-ramp can stay open.
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