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Freeway improvements on 1-mile stretch between Orangewood and Katella avenues build on previous widening through important stretch of SR-57
ORANGE – The Orange County Transportation Authority, in partnership with Caltrans, is moving forward on a project to improve northbound State Route 57 in a critical part of the central Orange County freeway network.
The OCTA board earlier this week approved a plan to enter into a cooperative agreement with Caltrans and to release of request for proposals to find a qualified consultant to prepare plans, estimates and specifications.
The SR-57 Northbound Improvement project will extend a fifth regular freeway lane along a 1-mile stretch of the northbound freeway between Orangewood and Katella avenues, at the border of Anaheim and Orange.
“This important Measure M project builds upon investments OCTA has already made to enhance the 57 freeway,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the county’s First District Supervisor. “Once it is complete, commuters and truck traffic will enjoy more efficient and consistent trips through central Orange County.”
In recent years, OCTA worked with Caltrans on additional improvements through the area, including widening the 57 freeway and improving on- and off-ramps between Anaheim and Brea.
The 57 freeway serves as a vital north/south link in the central part of the county for commuters and commercial truck traffic.
The ramps in that area are used by drivers to reach important entertainment destinations, including Angel Stadium, Honda Center and Disneyland Resorts, as well as the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC).
One of the unique engineering challenges of the project is widening the ramp above the existing rail tracks used by Metrolink and Pacific Surfliner trains. Plans call for making the improvements while not affecting rail traffic.
OCTA and Caltrans worked with the cities of Anaheim and Orange to complete the environmental review process in 2019.
The project, estimated to cost approximately $50 million, is scheduled to break ground in 2025 and be completed in 2027.
For more information, visit www.octa.net/57fwy.
The first phase of a study to address the long-term needs of South Orange County is complete and was reviewed by the OCTA Board; work on the study, with ongoing public input, will continue through 2021
ORANGE – The Orange County Transportation Authority board this week reviewed the results of the first phase of an ongoing study to address south Orange County’s transportation needs as the area continues to grow with new residents and jobs and as travel patterns and needs evolve.
The study, called the South Orange County Multimodal Transportation Study, is looking at a wide range of transportation needs and solutions over the next 25 years, including improvements to streets, bus and other transit options, highways and bikeways.
The area covered by the study encompasses about 40 percent of Orange County, generally south of State Route 55 to the San Diego County line, and from the coast to the foothills.
“Fundamental to our role at OCTA is our work with the public to understand transportation needs throughout the county,” said Chairman Andrew Do, also Orange County’s First District Supervisor. “With its focus on population and job growth patterns unique to South County, this study will give us valuable insights to help shape a future in which residents and businesses continue to thrive.”
During the first phase of the study conducted in fall 2020, the OCTA team engaged with residents and stakeholders and completed a survey in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean and Mandarin.
Among the survey findings, the respondents said that they would like to see:
The survey also indicated that, in addition to improving and maintaining freeways and streets, those who responded recognize the need to address transportation challenges and want to see an increase in alternative transportation frequency and accessibility.
OCTA, which is Orange County’s transportation planning agency, is responsible for providing a balanced and sustainable transportation system for the entire county. The focus on south Orange County is necessary because over the next 25 years, projections show population growing by 170,000 residents and an additional 130,000 jobs are expected.
At the same time, travel patterns and transportation needs have continued to evolve since OCTA’s last major transportation study of the area in 2008. The projects from that study have resulted in more than a $1.5 billion investment in the area, including OCTA’s I-5 carpool lane project between San Juan Creek Road and Avenida Pico, and OCTA’s I-5 widening between SR-73 and El Toro Road now under construction.
Since the 2008 study, other significant changes have occurred, including a near-term strategy to improve traffic agreed to by OCTA, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), and Caltrans. That strategy includes:
Other changes have included introduction of mobile transportation apps and on-demand services such as Uber and Lyft, as well as the introduction of community transit options like shuttles and trolleys.
The South County study continues into the second of three phases, scheduled through the end of 2021. Residents, business owners and other key stakeholders will be asked to participate throughout in order to develop community consensus on transportation solutions that should move forward for further development.
For more information, visit: www.octa.net/southocstudy. Click on the “stay connected” tab to sign up for updates.
The first half of the Westminster Boulevard bridge opened on Jan. 28, first half of Fairview Road scheduled to open Feb. 12
ORANGE – The I-405 Improvement Project is reaching the first of many milestones scheduled to be met in 2021, with the opening of the first halves of the Westminster Boulevard and Fairview Road bridges.
The first half of the new Westminster Boulevard bridge in Westminster opened to traffic on Thursday, Jan. 28, and the first half of the Fairview Road bridge in Costa Mesa is expected to open on Friday, Feb. 12. The two bridges are among 18 to be built, widened or replaced as part of the project, which aims to speed up travel times on I-405 between Costa Mesa and the Los Angeles County line.
Both Westminster Boulevard and Fairview Road are being demolished and reconstructed in two stages, one half at a time, allowing them to remain open to traffic in both directions during construction.
Demolition of the second half of the bridges will require overnight closures of I-405. The freeway near Westminster Boulevard is scheduled to close overnight on Saturday, Feb. 6. Closures near Fairview Road are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, and again on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Construction of the I-405 Improvement Project will continue in full swing throughout 2021. Half of the 18 bridges being rebuilt as part of the project are anticipated to be completed by the end of the year.
The Talbert Avenue and Magnolia Street bridges, along with the first half of the Bolsa Avenue bridge, are expected to open in the first half of 2021. Later in the year, the Heil Avenue pedestrian overcrossing, along with the Edwards Street, Bolsa Chica Road and Goldenwest Street bridges are scheduled to open.
For the latest construction schedule, as well as closure and detour information, visit the project’s interactive map at octa.net/405map or download the free 405 Improvement mobile app in the App Store or in Google Play.
The I-405 Improvement Project, now more than halfway complete, will add one regular lane in each direction between Euclid Street and I-605, and a second lane in each direction in the center of the freeway from SR-73 to I-605 that will combine with the existing carpool lanes to form the 405 Express Lanes.
This 16-mile segment of I-405 is one of the most heavily traveled stretches of highway in the nation, and drivers routinely face severe congestion in both the regular lanes and carpool lanes. The project is critical to accommodate expected employment, population and housing growth throughout the region.
The speed limit on I-405 has been reduced to 55 mph between SR-73 and I-605 for the safety of drivers and construction crews for the duration of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2023. Drivers are advised to slow down and proceed with caution whenever signs of highway work are present, and drivers whose vehicles become disabled should pull off at the nearest exit, if possible.
For more information about the I-405 Improvement Project, visit octa.net/405improvement.
OCTA in cooperation with The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is widening the San Diego Freeway (I-405) between State Route 73 (SR-73) and Interstate 605 (I-605).The 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 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. When the express lanes open, two-person carpools will pay a toll only during peak hours and carpools of three or more will be free at all times.
The general purpose lane portion of the project is an OCGO, formally Measure M (Orange County's half-cent transportation sales tax), project and will be funded by a combination of local, state and federal funds, with the express lanes portion of the project financed and primarily paid for by those who choose to pay a toll and use the 405 Express Lanes.
Because of the high demand for the I-405 and the need to stay within the existing right of way, the project cannot provide enough additional lanes to eliminate congestion. The 405 Express Lanes, however, will provide a fast, stress-free travel option. Because the amount of traffic in the 405 Express lanes will be optimized by raising and lowering tolls in response to traffic demand, the 405 Express Lanes will be more predictable and move more vehicles per lane during peak periods than the regular, general purpose lanes. Solo drivers in the 405 Express Lanes will pay the full toll and carpools are anticipated to be offered discounts or free travel. The toll policy has not been finalized yet but it will be designed to provide customers with a safe, reliable, congestion-free commute. The 405 Express lanes will offer people a choice to travel faster when they absolutely need to.
In 2040, it's expected to take 29 minutes to travel during rush hour from SR-73 to I-605 in the general purpose lanes after improvements to the I-405 are complete. That commute can be reduced to 13 minutes if a driver chooses to take the 405 Express Lanes.
The new parking structure will blend into the historic architectural design of the area and incorporate modern features like solar panels and electric car charging ports to contribute to the building’s energy efficiency. Some key design elements include:
611 New Parking Spaces
This 5-story structure will have 2 subterranean levels and a total of 611 parking spaces. The increase of parking spaces will improve accessibility for Metrolink riders and motorists visiting Old Towne Orange.
Electric Car Charging Ports
Several dedicated parking spaces will feature electric car charging ports, allowing for eco-friendly vehicles to plug in and recharge.
The building and plaza areas will reflect the historic character and scale of Old Towne Orange to blend into the architectural design of the historic district. The design was developed with extensive input from the community.
Solar panels will be placed on the facility’s roof, thereby providing reduced energy costs for lighting, mechanical and ventilation systems.
Bike Racks and Lockers
This newly added feature will encourage active transportation by providing commuters peace of mind knowing there is a secure place to store their bicycles.
Environmental: December 2009 – May 2016
Design: November 2010 – April 2016
Construction: July 2017 – Early 2019
To complement Orange County’s Metrolink service, passengers need a way to get to their final destination after getting off a train. Through Transit Extensions to Metrolink, a Measure M program (now called OC Go) intended to broaden the reach of Orange County’s backbone rail system to key employment, population, and activity centers, the cities of Santa Ana and Garden Grove developed a fixed guideway project that would address this need.
After evaluating many alternatives and extensive outreach, a streetcar was chosen as the preferred alternative. Expected to begin operations in 2021, the OC Streetcar will link the bustling Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC), which provides regional rail, OCTA bus, and intercity and international bus services, to a new multimodal hub at Harbor Boulevard/Westminster Avenue in Garden Grove. Along the way, OC Streetcar will connect directly with 18 OCTA bus routes. OC Streetcar will serve the historic downtown Santa Ana and Civic Center which includes government offices, federal, state and local courthouses, unique restaurants and shops, an artists’ village, several schools and a variety of community enrichment organizations.
OC Streetcar will increase transportation options and provide greater access along its 4.15-mile route (in each direction) along Santa Ana Boulevard, 4th Street, and the Pacific Electric right-of-way to Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove.
Orange County’s population is expected to increase 13 percent by 2035, and that means more drivers on our roadways. To ease growing traffic demands, OCTA, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the County of Orange and all 34 cities are working together to coordinate traffic lights across the county.
Traffic signal synchronization allows a series of lights to turn green in advance of arriving traffic based on synchronized timers set to current traffic conditions and congestion levels.
OCTA improves traffic flow by coordinating traffic lights across city boundaries. Most signal timing projects result in a 5 to 15 percent improvement in travel time and speed, reducing travel times, stops and delays.
The 91 Express Lanes was born from the need for congestion relief on SR-91 when no public funds were available to solve this critical transportation problem. Built by the California Private Transportation Company (CPTC), the 91 Express Lanes embodied a unique concept: The private sector would take the risk and the state would get congestion relief at no cost to taxpayers.
Built at a cost of $135 million, the Orange County section of the project was authorized as a toll road by the State of California in 1989 and opened in 1995. An agreement with the State of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) included a non-compete provision that created a 1.5-mile protection zone along each side of SR-91. This zone prohibited improvements along the corridor and created mobility problems as the region and corresponding transportation demands grew.
To mitigate growing concerns over congestion, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) acquired the 91 Express Lanes franchise rights in January 2003. This eliminated the non-compete provision, clearing the way for future enhancements that will increase capacity and improve traffic flow along the SR-91 corridor.
In 2008, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) received authority to extend the Express Lanes to I-15. Traffic congestion on eastbound SR-91 between Anaheim and Corona is routinely among the worst five areas in the nation. At a cost of $1.4 billion, the RCTC 91 Corridor Improvement Project added regular lanes, tolled express lanes, auxiliary lanes and direct express lane connectors from the northbound I-15 to the westbound SR-91 and from the eastbound SR-91 to the southbound I-15. Improvements to interchanges, ramps and surface streets were also made along the 91 corridor.
The Riverside section of the 91 Express Lanes opened in 2017, providing customers with 8 additional miles of travel time certainty.
To provide 91 Express Lanes customers with excellent customer service, OCTA and RCTC entered into an agreement with the current 91 Express Lanes operator to service both segments of the Express Lanes.
The 91 Express Lanes 2013 Bonds were issued to refund the Series 2003 Bonds, which were originally issued to finance the acquisition of the 91 Express Lanes for the design, construction and installation of the toll road. The current bonds outstanding are the Series 2013 Bonds and no future debt plans are anticipated at this time.
Bond Ratings: A1/AA/A+
Final Maturity: 2030
Debt Outstanding as of 12/31/2019: $91,865,000
On November 7, 2006, the voters of Orange County chose to extend the Measure M1 half cent sales tax for another 30 years from 2011 through 2041. Measure M2 (M2), administered by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), will generate billions of dollars to improve transportation in Orange County. M2 is designed to reduce traffic congestion and enhance overall mobility. Improvements in the plan include improving key freeways, upgrading major interchanges, and adding capacity and maintaining streets and roads. M2 allocates 43 percent of funds to freeway projects, 32 percent to streets and roads, and 25 percent to transit projects.
When the M2 Investment Plan was initially developed, forecasts projected M2 sales tax revenue available for projects and programs at $24.3 billion. Since the Great Recession in 2008, projected sales tax revenue has dropped by $10.8 billion and is now projected at $13.1 billion.
On November 13, 2017, the Updated Next 10 Plan was approved by the Board, reflecting new cash flows, schedule, and project information. This comprehensive plan sets priorities and funding commitments over a ten-year period (2017-2026) to ensure that promises made in the M2 Investment Plan can continue to be delivered despite changing economic and revenue shortfall impacts. While the Updated Next 10 Plan considers current cash flow forecasts, project information and schedules, the deliverables remain largely unchanged.
The largest component of the overall M2 Program is the Freeway Program. It receives 43 percent of the net sales tax revenue. In the approved Updated Next 10 Plan, $4.3 billion in freeway projects are scheduled to be delivered. The I-405 Improvement Project, which at $1.9 billion in estimated cost, will be the largest capital project that OCTA has delivered in its history. This project, slated to open in 2023, is concurrently under final design and construction.
OCTA issues Sales Tax Revenue bonds to provide funds for certain transportation projects, such as the upcoming Series 2019 Bonds issuance for the funding of the general purpose lanes for the I-405 Improvement Project. The current bonds outstanding are the Series 2010 A and B Bonds. OCTA is planning to issue ~$400 million of Sales Tax Revenue bonds in February 2019.
Final Maturity: 2041
Bond Ratings: Aa2/AA+/AA+
Debt Outstanding as of 12/31/2019: $635,220,000