I-405 and SR-57 Projects
It took more than a decade of planning for the ambitious widening of the I-405 freeway and the SR-57 and Lambert Road interchange improvement projects in Orange County. As they are both nearing completion, it’s a step closer to what Darrell Johnson, CEO of the Orange County Transportation Authority, said on groundbreaking day would be “the freeway of the future.”
Anyone who has traveled through Orange County since 2018 has seen crews at work on the largest project in the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)’s history, as well as the largest active freeway project in California. Such an undertaking has been necessary to ease gridlock on one of the busiest and most heavily congested corridors in the nation.
The $1.9 billion project by OCTA, in co-operation with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), is widening the San Diego Freeway (I-405) over 16 miles between State Route 73 (SR-73) and Interstate 605 (I-605).
Additionally, in stages over the last two years, 18 bridges along the corridor have been rebuilt. New sound walls, bike lanes and sidewalks have all been part of the improvements as major milestones have been reached.
Construction is on track for this project to finish in 2023. Once complete, travel times are expected to be reduced to 29 minutes during peak hours from SR-73 to I-605 in the regular lanes. That time can be trimmed to 13 minutes if users choose the new 405 Express Lanes that will adopt congestion management pricing, allowing for an optimization of traffic at free-flow speeds.
After the groundbreaking ceremony in 2018, then-U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) said the project was “what America is all about.” The Los Angeles Times reported that he praised the combination of tolls and state, local and federal tax dollars funding it. Approximately $90 million state funds and $46 million of federal funds were secured for the project.
SR-57 Lambert Road Interchange improvements project
Located in North Orange County, SR- 57 is a major interregional goods movement corridor that provides vital access between Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The corridor currently experiences heavy congestion and a high truck volume.
This $99.8 million project is aimed at providing additional capacity and improving the performance of the Lambert Road interchange. It will also enable the future construction of the SR-57 Northbound Truck Climbing Lane between Lambert Road and the Orange / Los Angeles County line.
Crews are now reconfiguring ramps and constructing a loop on-ramp at the southeast quadrant. A new15-ft. standard vertical clearance for the Lambert Road under-crossing and widening of the northbound Lambert Road under-crossing bridge will accommodate the future truck-climbing lane project. Pedestrians and bicycle travel will also be enhanced with lanes to provide safer passage.
Commuters though this area have likely seen crews who work both day and night on this project to meet its expected completion date of December 2021.
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