Octa's transportation blog

I-405 Improvements Bring Traffic Relief from Central O.C. to the L.A. County Line

Transportation leaders and elected officials gathered December 1 to celebrate the successful completion of OCTA’s I-405 Improvement Project, which aims to improve travel times along one of the nation’s busiest highways.

One new regular lane in each direction and the 405 Express Lanes will provide a faster and more reliable commute for the hundreds of thousands of drivers who traverse this stretch of freeway each day.

“I am immensely proud to announce the successful completion of the I-405 Improvement Project, the largest undertaking in OCTA’s history,” said OCTA Chairman Gene Hernandez, also the mayor of Yorba Linda. “OCTA’s delivery of this project showcases our commitment to Orange County’s voters and to improving the quality of life for everyone who lives, works or travels through this area.”

A Faster Future Unveiled

The I-405 Improvement Project, constructed in cooperation with Caltrans, broke ground in 2018, and was a cornerstone of OC Go, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation. The project is expected to improve travel times along this 16-mile stretch of freeway and accommodate an expected growth in employment, population and housing throughout the region. OC Go is also known as Measure M.

The project added one regular lane in each direction of I-405 between Euclid Street in Fountain Valley and I-605 in Seal Beach, as promised to voters through OC Go. It also made improvements to streets and freeway on- and off-ramps, and reconstructed 18 bridges, many now featuring new sidewalks and bike lanes.

“Whether you commute daily, choose to use the 405 Express Lanes, or opt for biking and walking through our communities, the I-405 Improvement Project is a testament to our commitment to enhancing Orange County’s transportation system,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson. “I want to express my sincere gratitude to the residents, businesses and commuters for their patience during construction as we worked to create a faster and more efficient future in Southern California.”

Live Life on Time

The project also created the 405 Express Lanes between SR-73 in Costa Mesa and I-605 at the Orange County border with Los Angeles County, offering options to carpoolers to travel for free and solo drivers the choice to speed up their commute for a toll.

Operated by OCTA, the 405 Express Lanes consists of two lanes in each direction in the center of the freeway. All vehicles are required to have a FasTrak transponder and a valid account with any toll agency in California to enter the 405 Express Lanes. The FasTrak transponder can be from any agency in California.

Tolls will vary by hour, day of the week, direction of travel and distance traveled, and will be adjusted regularly to ensure a free-flowing commute.

Investing in a Better Commute

The $2.16 billion I-405 Improvement Project was financed with a combination of local, state and federal funds, with the majority of funding from OC Go.

The express lanes portion of the project is not funded with local sales tax dollars but instead is paid for through a $629 million federal Transportation Infrastructure and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan that will be repaid solely by drivers who choose to pay a toll. Toll revenue collected beyond what it costs to repay the loan will fund transportation improvements for everyone who travels through the 405 corridor – whether or not they choose to use the express lanes.

The I-405 Improvement Project was designed and constructed by OC 405 Partners, a joint venture of OHLA USA, Inc. and Astaldi Construction Corporation. Kapsch TrafficCom USA is responsible for the tolling and traffic management systems of the 405 Express Lanes. A team led by WSP USA is responsible for the 405 Express Lanes customer service operations and ETC, LLC is responsible for the back-office system for the 405 Express Lanes.

“This entire project has been a model of successful strategic cooperation from the stakeholder and community engagement to the work of our private-sector partners, as well as the coordination with the State of California, the Federal Highway Administration and local cities, I want to thank each individual, organization and agency that came together to bring this project to life,” Johnson said. 

While the bulk of the work is now complete, crews will be putting the finishing touches on the project over the next several months. 

For more information about the 405 Express Lanes, visit here.  

For general information about the project, visit here.