By Anthony Saude
Diamond Bar – Two of the three legs of the new Lemon Avenue interchange of the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar opened on Tuesday, May 1 in time for the busy morning commute.
Caltrans will clear away the orange cones at 6 a.m. and officially allowed commuters to enter the westbound 60 Freeway via the brand new Lemon Avenue on-ramp. When they return home eastbound they will be exiting on the brand new newly constructed off – ramp for Lemon Avenue.
An eastbound freeway on-ramp, also at Lemon Avenue is scheduled to open sometime in June. When that is open it will complete the three-legged interchange that has been in the works for 14 years in the eastern section of Los Angeles County, at the corner of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties.
ACE the lead agency, Caltrans, Los Angeles County and the cities of Diamond Bar and City of Industry have been working together on this idea of adding the new exit/entrance to this busy section of freeway since 2004.
After the contract was finally signed in 2011 the vision began to take shape. The construction on this project has led to weekend lane closures, detours and delays for the past year and a half. The increase in truck traffic from the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach has long clogged the 60 Freeway in the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire along the so called “truck route.” Hundreds of 18-wheeler trucks carry goods from the ports to warehouses in City of Industry as well as Ontario, Moreno Valley, San Bernardino and Riverside every day.
The eastbound off-ramp at Brea Canyon Road in Diamond Bar will be permanently closed. Motorists will no longer be able to exit the freeway there.
The eastbound on-ramp to the freeway at Brea Canyon will remain open until construction is complete on the Lemon Avenue on-ramp sometime in June.
Once the work is finished, the $22.5 million project will swap the Brea Canyon Road entrance and exit with a new Lemon Avenue entrance and exit a few miles to the west.
This project, it is said, will reduce existing traffic congestion, delays and improve mobility and access to and from the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar and Industry. According to ACE this will eliminate the weaving and confusion many drivers experience when approaching the busy 57 /60 Freeway interchange.
The hopes of the county and the nearby communities is that the truck traffic will be diverted away from the Diamond Bar, Brea Canyon Road area and the nearby streets going toward City of Industry. “For decades, drivers have got lost and end up driving the back streets of Diamond Bar looking for their destinations”, said Diamond Bar Councilwoman Carol Herrera in February.
Closing the Brea Canyon Road ramps and diverting cars and trucks to Lemon Avenue is just a precursor to a full-fledged reconfiguration of the larger 57/60 freeways where they join together for a two-mile stretch in Diamond Bar, known as the SR 57/60 Freeway Confluence.
The larger, $260-million project has been billed as a fix to the No. 1 freeway interchange in the state for truck accidents and delays as ranked by the American Transportation Research Institute.