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NBCUniversal Permanently Closing 101 Freeway Offramp and the Neighbors Are Pissed

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One of the less-discussed features of the massive NBCUniversal Evolution project, which will bring huge changes to Universal City and the surrounding area (including a giant Harry-Potter-themed attraction and hotels) is the permanent closure of the 101 South offramp at Barham Boulevard. A new southbound onramp will be built on Universal Studios Boulevard, which will send Universal Citywalkers right onto the freeway instead of routing them through the surrounding neighborhood, says the LA Times. So there will be less traffic in the area, but residents will have to get off the freeway one stop before or after the Barham exit, which sounds like it could be a little inconvenient. And since this is LA, naturally, there are residents who are proclaiming the closure "an abomination."

Shuttering the ramp, which was deemed necessary by Caltrans, means that drivers will have to exit at Lankershim (one stop before Barham) or Highland (one stop after). For some residents, that's unacceptable: "It's an abomination; a developer was able to confiscate an exit on a state-funded highway for their own personal use," says one fellow. It's likely that he is one of the more than 1,500 people who signed an online petition aimed at stopping the ramp closure.

Meanwhile, the new southbound onramp at Universal Studios Boulevard will allow people to shoot straight out of the park and onto the freeway, theoretically reducing park traffic elsewhere in the neighborhood, according to reps for Universal. That onramp, though, would be too close to the present Barham offramp, and the combination of "weaving and merging" of cars trying to enter and exit the freeway in the short space between the two would be disastrous, Caltrans decided. Reps for Universal call the ramp closure an "unfortunate trade-off," adding that they'd like as many ramps as possible to help people get to their park. Believable.

The new onramp at Universal Studios Boulevard is under construction now and is slated to open in 2016, but the Barham ramp is going to close before then. (The Barham onramp to the 101 South will stay open.) The NBCUniversal Evolution plan was approved by both the city and the county last year after years of wrangling; NBCUni began construction on the first of many projects named in the $1.6-billion plan earlier this year. Besides hotels and offices, additions include an elaborate and fanciful Wizarding World of Harry Potter, scheduled to open in 2016. If anything does the drivers of the Cahuenga Pass in, it's going to be all that Potter traffic.
· Hollywood Hills residents angered by plan to close 101 offramp [LAT]
· NBCUniversal Evolution [Curbed LA]