An important segment of the Lincoln Boulevard public works construction project is moving forward toward completion around the middle of next year, says a representative of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

“Currently, (the project) is on track,” said Judy Gish, a Caltrans spokeswoman. “We hope to have Phase One completed in about six months.”

The main component of the first stage of construction consists of the realignment and widening of the stretch of Lincoln Boulevard from LMU Drive in Westchester to south of Bali Way in the Marina del Rey area, along with improvements along the intersection of Route 1 and Sepulveda Boulevard.

The capital works venture, which will cost approximately $9 million in Phase One, will also see a narrowing of the median from Fiji Way to Bali Way and a new right-turn lane from northbound Lincoln Boulevard onto eastbound Mindanao Way.

While these long-term improvements may eventually be good news to the thousands of commuters who use Lincoln Boulevard each day, the traffic congestion that is the byproduct of the road enhancements has been difficult for many who live in nearby neighborhoods and commute north and south to work. Westchester resident Russ Carrington has seen his commute time nearly triple since the project was initiated.

“I can actually walk to work sometimes in the time that I have to sit in traffic,” said Carrington, who owns Action Watersports in Marina del Rey.

Denny Schneider, a member of the Westchester/Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council, is upset that the project has taken so long to complete.

“It is absurd that [Caltrans] is so poorly coordinated with everyone on this,” he said. “[Phase One] started almost two years ago, and by the time that it’s finished, it will be too little, too late.”

Steven Bentley, the chair of the Lincoln Boulevard Streetscape Committee, feels that Caltrans has been relatively cooperative with the businesses in the Loyola Village shopping district during the capital works project.

“Construction seems to be on schedule,” he said.

That said, Bentley, who has been tracking the progress of Phase Two of the development, is dismayed that some restaurant owners along the heart of the district between 83rd and 85th Streets say they have lost approximately 75 percent of their lunch business.

“I regret that [construction work] had to be done,” he said. “Loyola Village is a community-serving district, and businesses that I have talked to say that they have seen a real impact on their lunch crowds.”

Carrington feels that there could have been more consideration for hikers and bicyclists along Lincoln Boulevard during the construction project.

“Right now, it is not very pedestrian-friendly or friendly for bike riders,” said Carrington, who rides his bicycle to work two to three times a week.

In the second stage of the Caltrans project, Lincoln will be widened from La Tijera Boulevard in Westchester to LMU Drive, providing an additional northbound lane and traffic signal modifications.

Construction on Lincoln Boulevard will be ongoing until its completion.

“There has been no discussion of any kind of moratorium on construction,” said Gish of Caltrans.

Phase Three, which included all median work from La Tijera to LMU Drive, has been completed, according to the Caltrans Web site.