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Monday, April 14, 2008

Traffic: A shortcut past the Van Nuys-405 "barrier"

We have lived in Van Nuys for most of our 22 years in California, most of it right here in Van Nuys, in the crook of the 101 and 405 freeways. Once issue that has always plagued us was the barrier that the 405 can cause when trying to get from Van Nuys to the West Valley.

Due to the location of the freeway and the Sepulveda Dam, options for crossing the 405 are very limited. They included Ventura Blvd, Burbank Blvd, Victory Blvd and Vanowen. In the past, it has been very difficult to get over one of these routes, but the last 5 years or so have brought more and more gridlock during rush hours. The freeway on-ramp at all but Vanowen can cause westbound traffic to be backed up for blocks, sometimes all the way to Van Nuys Blvd. I had hoped that the completion of the new ramps at Sepulveda and Ventura might ease the pressure on the Burbank ramps, but I haven't seen any reduction in traffic.

So why a shortcut?

We discovered the free archery sessions at the Sepulveda Dam Recreation area a few months ago and love to go spend a couple of hours shooting at the range. Unfortunately, the traffic has made it more and more difficult to go the 2+ miles between our house and the park. After several times trying all of the routes above, (except Van Own) which seems too far north to be practical, I was getting very frustrated, just the opposite feeling I was trying to cultivate in the middle of the week. Our recent bike rides (and my Walking Van Nuys Project) turned up one solution though.

As you can see from the map below, the construction of the Orange Line Busway has opened a new router under the 405. In order to better facilitate access to the large parking lot at the Sepulveda Station, the busway includes not only a bike way, but also a driveway leading from Victory Blvd, west of the freeway to the parking lot. It is possible to enter the parking lot either directly from Sepulveda or off of Erwin Street.

View Larger Map

This shortcut has proven invaluable in getting to the archery range in a timely manner and allowing access to the West Valley from Van Nuys for other events. As we get back on our bicycles after a year away, this route can also be used, but the distance is a bit far, and we are not really up for doing a lot of pedaling in the dark on the return trip. Still, not having to use a car at all would be even better.

I am not a lawyer, or a city planner, and cannot vouch for the legality of using this route as a shortcut, but I have had no problem over the last several months. For your own safety, and the safety of others, observe the traffic laws and go slow. Also, watch out for walkers and bikers in the 2 areas where the bikeway crosses the road.


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