COSTA MESA, Calif.—After nearly six years of construction, express lanes opened Dec. 1 on the 405 Freeway between Costa Mesa and southern Los Angeles County, promoting a faster ride for people willing to pay the toll.
The $2.16 billion project, which began in 2018, added one new lane in each direction as well as express lanes between state Route 73 and the 605 Freeway, a first for Orange County freeways. The project also included upgrades to streets and on- and off-ramps through the cities affected. Crews also reconstructed 18 bridges, some of which include new sidewalks and bike lanes.
The freeway is used by about 370,000 vehicles each day, making it one of the most-traveled in the nation, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). The project will improve travel times, officials said.
“This project is 20 years in the making,” said Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, who also serves on the OCTA board. “I’ve been on the board for nine years, so I’ve been involved down the stretch with the design, financing and through construction, and we brought it in on time. And it will improve traffic flow for the 405, which is the busiest stretch in America.”
The freeway “is the lifeline of the Southern California economy, so giving drivers options to improve their commute and to increase traffic flow is vital to the growth of our county and the economy overall,” Mr. Do said.
Mr. Do pointed out how OCTA staff secured financing for the project before the rise in interest rates due to inflation.
“We took advantage of lower interest rates then and ended up saving the agency $500 million,” he said.
It’s the biggest freeway project in California history, Mr. Do said.
People using the toll lanes will have to have a FasTrak transponder in their vehicle. The toll will vary depending on congestion and the time of day. Carpools with two people can use the lanes for free during non-peak hours for the next three years, but tolls will be required during peak hours.
Three-person carpools will be free at all times.
According to The Orange County Register, drivers will pay on average $3 to traverse the entire length of the toll lanes.