California officials broke ground Jan. 26 on a $1.9 billion, 16-mile project to expand Interstate 405 between Costa Mesa and the Los Angeles County, adding both regular highway lanes and express toll lanes to reduce commute times.
The Orange County Transportation Authority is the lead agency, in partnership with the California Department of Transportation, and said it is the largest highway project under construction in California.
The OCTA said the work will add one regular lane in each direction, along with a second lane in each direction that will be combined with existing carpool lanes to create the 405 Express Lanes.
OCTA Chair Lisa Bartlett said: "The project is crucial for much- needed congestion relief as employment, population and housing continue to grow in southern California."
The project will also build, widen or replace more than 18 bridges, and improve freeway access and traffic on local streets.
The announcement said that work "is critical to accommodate expected growth in Orange County and throughout the region," as traffic on I-405 is projected to grow 30 percent by 2040.
"This project demonstrates how strong partnerships between Caltrans, the business community, and local and regional agencies can result in viable solutions to some of the state's most significant congestion problems," Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said in the OCTA press release. "Generations of drivers will benefit from new Express Lanes, which moves more people through the corridor faster and means less time looking at brake lights and more time where it matters."
With the 405 Express Lanes, the agency said carpools of two or more people can use lanes for free for the first 3.5 years after opening. Cars with three or more people can use the express lanes for free at all times.
The OCTA also said the I-405 Improvement Project, scheduled for completion in 2023, is made possible by a combination of local, state and federal funds, including a $629 million long-term, low-interest USDOT infrastructure loan. The local agency said that federal loan will save taxpayers about $300 million compared with traditional financing methods.
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