At its most recent meeting, the OCTA Board approved the initial 405 Express Lanes toll policy. The I-405 Project will improve 16 miles of I-405 between the SR-73 freeway in Costa Mesa and I-605 near the L.A. County line. The project includes adding one regular lane in each direction from Euclid Street to I-605 and making improvements to freeway entrances, exits and bridges. It will also construct the 405 Express Lanes, two lanes in each direction from SR-73 to I-605. The new express lanes incorporate the existing carpool lanes and connectors that opened in 2014.
As part of the toll policy, the OCTA Board negotiated terms and conditions with the State of California (Caltrans) to keep two-person carpools free for a minimum of three years after the 405 Express Lanes opens, pending the results of the project traffic and revenue study. The approved initial toll policy will allow two-person carpools to remain free in the existing carpool lanes until 2023. After the toll lanes open in 2023, two-person carpools will remain free for the first three and a half years during non-peak hours.
In addition, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) voted unanimously to approve OCTA’s application to develop and operate a high-occupancy toll (HOT) facility for the I-405 Improvement Project, pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 194. AB 194 allows regional transportation agencies such as OCTA to apply to the CTC to operate HOT lanes, while ensuring local control. This is the first project approved under this authority. The CTC’s approval will allow OCTA to move forward with the development of the 405 Express Lanes’ operating and enforcement agreements with Caltrans.
The 405 Express Lanes will increase the alternatives for drivers traveling the 405 corridor. Funding additional lanes with tolling creates this opportunity to move more traffic through the region, improve traffic speeds, and enable people to get to a business meeting, a child’s soccer game or daycare, or a job interview in a predictable amount of time.
Those who choose to pay a toll improve traffic for everyone by freeing space in the regular lanes, including the additional lane in each direction that is being added as part of the project. Also, if there are excess toll revenues beyond operational, maintenance and financing costs, they will be used to fund additional improvements in the corridor. As an example, to date the 91 Express Lanes has provided more than $22 million for improvements to the freeway and for public transit in the 91 corridor.
Adding express lanes, in addition to the new regular lanes, benefits all people who use the I-405. Rush-hour commutes in the regular lanes on I-405 are expected to be reduced by almost 30 minutes versus only building one regular lane in each direction. Without paying a penny more, drivers can be home a half hour sooner.
For a comprehensive overview of the 405 Express Lanes project, please visit the 405 Express Lanes tab at the project webpage.