OCTA Briefs State Transportation Official on the I-405 Improvement Project

On August 25, OCTA staff met with California State Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley), Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, to provide information about the I-405 Improvement Project. The Assembly Transportation Committee oversees all legislation and policy issues impacting the transportation sector in the State Assembly.  

OCTA participants included Jim Beil, Executive Director of Capital Programs, Rose Casey, Director of Highway Programs, Kirk Avila, General Manager of Finance and Administration, and Jeff Mills, I-405 Project Program Manager.

Meeting at the Santa Ana project office offered an in-person opportunity to present a project overview and discuss topics, including funding and construction techniques. OCTA officials signed final documents with the U.S. Department of Transportation on July 26 for a $629 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan that will cover about one-third of the $1.9 billion freeway project. The design and construction schedule will be finalized in the next few months and the project is expected to break ground early next year using design-build, a project delivery method that allows for design work and construction to occur simultaneously.

Design-build authority for the project was first authorized under AB 401 (Chapter 586, Statutes of 2013), which was authored by Assembly Member Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), and sponsored by the Orange County Transportation Authority.  OCTA is the first agency in the State to use the authority granted under this legislation. Assembly Member Frazier expressed specific interest in the time and cost savings associated with the project’s design-build technique, stating that information learned can be applied to similar opportunities statewide.

Assembly Member Frazier has authored key legislation to facilitate the Interstate 405 Improvement Project, including AB 194 (Chapter 687, Statutes of 2015), which provided for local control in the delivery and operation of toll facilities statewide.  The Interstate 405 Improvement Project is the first project to be implemented under the authority granted by AB 194.  He has also co-authored or authored several bills that sought improved stability in transportation funding and project delivery reforms, including SB 1 (Chapter 5, Statutes of 2017) and legislation to streamline environmental review. 

The I-405 Improvement Project includes adding one regular lane in each direction between Euclid Street and I-605 and making improvements to freeway entrances, exits and bridges. In addition, the project will add the 405 Express Lanes, incorporating the existing carpool lanes and a new lane in each direction between SR-73 and I-605. The 405 Express Lanes will give solo drivers the choice to speed up their commute for a toll and give options for carpoolers to use the lanes for free.

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