The Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors is scheduled to address community concerns today about the four alternatives for expanding the 405 Freeway, including a controversial proposal to add toll lanes to the freeway.
Several cities including Seal Beach and Fountain Valley have come out against the proposed toll lanes along the 405 from Seal Beach to Costa Mesa, expressing doubt that it would serve their residents and concern that it would bypass their business districts. More than 1,200 people commented on the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report.
Residents in Seal Beach, Rossmoor and Los Alamitos have also expressed concern that adding lanes only on the Orange County side of the border would create a bottleneck at the county line, exacerbating local traffic and creating air pollution due to idling engines. They also oppose the two-lane expansion because it would push the freeway soundwall further into Seal Beach’s College Park East neighborhood.
However, county officials and leaders in cities further south such as Fountain Valley have advocated for a proposal to add two lanes on either side of the freeway to ease the traffic burden for more than 300,000 drivers who commute the busy stretch of freeway daily. The proposal would also reduce the air quality impact over the option of doing nothing at all, according to OCTA staff.
Additionally, officials in Fountain Valley have expressed concern that the project would force four businesses to relocate, but that can be averted with alterations to the project’s design, OCTA staff wrote in a report to the board.
Caltrans will ultimately get final approval over the project, but it’s likely the state agency will defer to the will of OCTA, which is funding the project. The agencies are currently looking at four options for expanding the freeway, said Niall Barrett, OCTA’S project manager for the 405 Improvement Project.
- Alternative 1: Add one general-purpose lane
- Alternative 2: Add two general-purpose lanes (this would move the sound wall up to 10 feet into Seal Beach’s College Park East neighborhood)
- Alternative 3: Add one general-purpose lane and one toll lane (this would move the sound wall up to 8 feet into College Park East)
- Alternative 4: Don’t expand the freeway at all
Adding just one lane in each direction would cost $1.3 billion because freeway overpasses would have to be torn down and widened to fit the expanded freeway underneath. The project is funded by Measure M money, but the proposed toll road would be funded by $400 million raised through bond sales.
Even if the freeway is expanded by two lanes, it will still be congested due to the sheer volume of traffic that passes over the 405 every day, county officials have said. So far, OCTA staffers have indicated that the two favored options include the toll lanes or the addition of two general-purpose lanes in each direction.
Five Orange County mayors and Huntington Beach's mayor pro tem have signed a letter pledging their opposition to the proposed toll lanes. Fountain Valley Mayor John Collins, Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar, Seal Beach Mayor Michael Levitt, Westminster Mayor Margie Rice, Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever and Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Dwyer all signed the letter.
Today’s OCTA board meeting is at 9 a.m. at 600 S. Main St. The board is scheduled to vote on its preferred alternative Sep. 24.