Your Commute Just Got Faster and Greener

The newly finished signal synchronization project has increased travel speed up to 32 percent, according to the The Orange County Transportation Authority

If the drive on Katella Avenue seems shorter lately, you’re not imagining things.

Orange County Transportation Authority crews have finished synchronizing signals at 69 intersections along the well-traveled road. 

The project has increased travel speeds up to 32 percent, decreased travel time up to 25 percent and reduced the number of stops up to 57 percent, according to OCTA officials.

The newly synced signals stretch for 17 miles from the northbound 605 freeway ramps in Los Alamitos to Cannon Street in Orange.

Honor Levin, a 12-year Rossmoor resident, said she has seen a slight difference on Katella, a road she takes “several times a week.”

“I think it has gotten a little bit better,” Levin said “It seems I’ve only noticed the last week.”

According to Levin, one Katella intersection that could still use some work is Katella and Los Alamitos Boulevard when drivers are heading west from the direction of Costco.

“I think that light could be better,” Levin said. “You don’t really feel it the other way (going east.)”

Levin added that any Katella traffic is minor compared to the congestion at intersection of 405 Freeway and Seal Beach Boulevard ― where OCTA is currently doing bridge demolition and construction.

“After you put up with it for few weeks, Katella’s a breeze,” she said, laughing.

During the next three years, OCTA officials expect the Katella synchronization project to reduce fuel consumption by 1 million gallons and greenhouse gases by more than 23 million pounds. 

“Signal synchronization ensures vehicles are moving most efficiently and helps relieve the frustration of continuously getting stuck at red lights,” said OCTA Chairman Paul Glaab, also the mayor of Laguna Niguel. “We are proud that the program has been such a success and we look forward to continuing this cost-effective way to improve the flow of traffic.”

Program partners include local cities, the county of Orange and Caltrans

The Katella improvement cost $673,845 and was funded by Measure M and state Proposition 1B.

The county signal synchronization program has synchronized more than 750 intersections along eight major streets:

  • Alicia Parkway
  • Beach Boulevard
  • Brookhurst Street
  • Chapman Avenue
  • El Toro Road
  • Irvine Center Drive/Moulton Parkway/Golden Lantern
  • Katella Avenue
  • Orangethorpe Avenue

Two other projects -- La Palma Avenue and Yorba Linda Boulevard -- are currently under way and are projected to be completed by December.

OCTA plans to synchronize 2,000 intersections – every major street in the county – as part of the renewed Measure M.


Have you noticed a difference on Katella Avenue? Is there anywhere else you would like to see the county focus its snychronization efforts?

L.O. McBeath October 10, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Work on Brookhurst st. between Chapman and Bolsa Ave. It takes forever to traverse this route especially on weekends. Traffic lights everywhere.
Larry Jackson October 10, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Los Alamitos is the only municipality along Katella that reduces the speed limit to 35. The remainder of the route allows 40 or 45. Personally, I have observed that staying within the 35 mph limit guarantees you will be stopped by the traffic lights, while those doing 40 or more are able to make it through. Has this been changed? Are the lights in Los Alamitos now timed for 35 mph?


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