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Cahuenga Passers Suing to Keep 101 Barham Offramp Open

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Cahuenga Pass residents are not going to give up a freeway offramp without a fight. The Barham ramp off the southbound 101 Freeway is set to close permanently as part of the $1.6-billion NBCUniversal Evolution plan (which will completely remake Universal City), and angry neighbors have now filed a lawsuit against pretty much everyone involved—Universal Studios, Caltrans, the city of Los Angeles, and LA County (the latter two approved the plan)—for giving the go-ahead to a project whose environmental impact was, they say, improperly evaluated. Rankled residents also say that there's no solid proof that anyone ever even looked at alternatives to closing the ramp, reports the LA Times. Meanwhile, NBCUni and Caltrans say the closure is a safety issue because the old ramp would be too close to a new onramp that'll take drivers directly from Universal City onto the freeway.

With the Barham closure, drivers would either have to exit the freeway one ramp early, at Lankershim, or one ramp later, two miles away at Highland Avenue (which is already a nasty traffic snarl). But the lawsuit claims the effects go much deeper. The Caltrans text that calls for the closure explicitly says that the offramp closure won't affect emergency services or other public services (parks, schools), but the neighbors say there's insufficient proof that that's true. The lawsuit also alleges that developers tried to keep the closure secret—referring to the well-known ramp as the "Bennet Drive" offramp in documents, though no one calls it that—because they knew there would be backlash and they didn't want to hear it.

In response to the lawsuit, NBCUniversal would only say via emailed statement to the Times, "The new southbound 101 onramp was fully vetted in the public through a seven-year environmental review process. We are confident that the courts will stand by the city, county and Caltrans approvals."
· Lawsuit says NBCUniversal, Caltrans broke law in offramp closure [LAT]
· NBCUniversal Permanently Closing 101 Freeway Offramp and the Neighbors Are Pissed [Curbed LA]