The $355 million I-5 Empire Project in Burbank is a big, complex project that will, among other things, elevate the railroad tracks, construct a new interchange and undercrossing at Empire Avenue, demolish and realign the Burbank Boulevard bridge, and construct carpool lanes in both directions of I-5 between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street (learn more here).
Understandably, we get piles of questions about this confounding project from motorists and residents, and as luck should have it, this post is chock full of answers! The top five most common questions are answered below. If your question isn’t on the list, send us an email here or call us on the I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335.
1. What’s that big pit by Victory Place and Empire Avenue?
That big pit is where the new undercrossing will connect Empire Avenue to San Fernando Boulevard under I-5. Crews are also constructing a new full interchange here. These improvements will be completed by mid-2018, but some of the new ramps will open earlier.
2. Is it true that you’re going to demolish the Burbank Boulevard bridge?
Yes, but don’t worry—it's not permanent. We’re going to reconstruct the bridge, making it longer and wider, and reconfigure the ramps. The bridge needs to be reconstructed because we’re also adding carpool lanes to I-5 between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street, which means the freeway and the bridge have to be widened. Demo and reconstruction will begin in mid-2018 and take about 14 months.
3. Wait—you’re going to remove the Burbank Boulevard bridge for 14 months?! Oh noooooooo! How will we get around the city?
The work on the Burbank Boulevard bridge won’t begin until the new Empire Avenue interchange and undercrossing are open to traffic. So, you’ll have a new interchange to use before anything happens to Burbank Boulevard. Also, some of the Burbank Boulevard ramps will remain open during reconstruction, and we’ll have detours in place that will be carefully monitored to maximize traffic flow.
4. What’s happening with the railroad tracks?
The railroad tracks are being elevated, so that instead of driving over them at Buena Vista Street, you’ll drive under them—a significant safety and operational enhancement. The temporary railroad tracks (aka shoofly) that began operating last fall will be removed. The elevated tracks will be completed late this year.
5. I’ve noticed graffiti in the construction zone. How can I report this?
Call us on the I-5 Info Line at (855) 454-6335 or email us here. Give us the exact location and a description of the graffiti. The contractor is usually able to remove tags within two weeks of the report—sometimes sooner. Removals that require freeway closures may take longer.