Even as millions of California residents follow state orders to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, work continues at a rapid pace on essential transportation improvement projects across Orange County.
With current reduced traffic volumes providing unprecedented opportunities to accelerate projects, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is working with Caltrans to speed up construction on several major freeway and rail projects that the state has deemed essential.
Projects underway include the I-405 Improvement Project on 16 miles between Costa Mesa and the border with Los Angeles County, the 4-mile OC Streetcar in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, and improvements along I-5 in south and central Orange County. Projects are funded by a combination of local, state and federal funds, with significant funding coming from Measure M2, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, also known as OC Go.
OCTA says the $1.9 billion I-405 Improvement Project is the largest highway project under construction in California and the second largest in state history. Construction crews have been able to take advantage of current decreased freeway traffic volumes to close lanes during the day so more work can be completed. Estimates are that extended closures will provide more than 4,800 additional work hours on the I-405 project from mid-March to mid-May.
Construction is also in full swing on a new OCTA-led rail project in the cities of Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano. The Passing Siding Improvement Project, adjacent to the I-5 freeway, is adding 1.8 miles of new railroad track, and crews were able to use a recent weekend work window with no train traffic traveling through the area to relocate and move new rail into place. The improvements will reduce delays, increase safety and provide more reliable rail service for the region.
“We want the public to know that even as we all work to manage the effects of the coronavirus, OCTA remains dedicated to fulfilling the promises made to voters through Measure M and doing so in a safe manner,” said OCTA Chairman Steve Jones, also the mayor of Garden Grove.