New Lanes Being Added to 405 Freeway

405 Freeway (Patch file photo)
405 Freeway (Patch file photo)

By City News Service

Orange County Transportation Authority Board members voted today to add a new lane in each direction to the San Diego (405) Freeway between Costa Mesa and the Los Angeles County line in Seal Beach, avoiding the issue of toll lanes that has drawn outcries from several north county cities.

The OCTA board voted 12-4 to add a new lane in both directions from Euclid Street to the San Gabriel (605) Freeway, with board members Todd Spitzer, Matt Harper, John Moorlach and Gary Miller dissenting. Board member Janet Nguyen abstained, and colleague Patricia Bates was absent.

The vote reaffirms the board's decision in October 2012 to add two free lanes at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion paid for by Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters for transportation improvements.

The stretch of highway is the busiest in the country, handling up to about 379,000 vehicles on busy days, based on a 2011 survey.

Caltrans officials have been pressuring OCTA leaders to add toll lanes to the San Diego Freeway, because carpool lane traffic is too slow during peak hours. Caltrans has the final say in whether toll lanes are added to the freeway.

Part of the pressure was coming from federal officials who have threatened to withdraw funding in any state where the average speed in those lanes dips below 45 mph at least 90 percent of the time.

Tolls from the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway in Costa Mesa to the San Gabriel (605) Freeway were estimated at $5 southbound and $6 northbound.

An environmental report on the free lanes is expected to be done by summer, with construction beginning in 2015, said OCTA spokesman Ted Nguyen. Construction is expected to be done by 2020, he said.

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