Thu. Dec 7th, 2023

ORANGE – Travelers on one of the nation’s busiest highways are about to see their drive improve as two new regular lanes and the 405 Express Lanes are expected to open to traffic Dec. 1, as part of the Orange County Transportation Authority’s I-405 Improvement Project.

In advance of the opening, crews will begin testing the 405 Express Lanes in late October. Testing will require closures of the existing carpool lanes within the project limits.

The northbound I-405 carpool lane will close at SR-73 as early as 11 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25. The carpool lanes in both directions will also close between SR-22 and I-405, and between I-605 and I-405, as early as 11 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Drivers should expect delays during the closures and are encouraged to use alternate routes if possible. Once testing is complete, the lanes will reopen as part of the 405 Express Lanes.

Please note the targeted Dec. 1 opening date is subject to change based on a number of factors. 

A Faster Future

OCTA broke ground on the I-405 Improvement Project in 2018 to improve travel times and accommodate an expected growth in employment, population and housing throughout the region.

Overall, the project is adding 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 Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation.

The project is also making improvements to streets and freeway on- and off-ramps throughout the cities along the 16-mile project area. And 18 bridges were reconstructed as part of the project, many of which include new sidewalks and bike lanes.

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

405 Express Lanes

The 405 Express Lanes is two lanes in each direction in the center of the freeway. Vehicles are required to have a FasTrak transponder and a valid account with any toll agency in California to enter the 405 Express Lanes, which will provide drivers with a safe, reliable commute, while maximizing the number of cars that travel at free-flow speeds.

Vehicles with three or more people, along with motorcycles and vehicles with designated veterans license plates or disabled person license plates, will always get to travel on the 405 Express Lanes for free with a FasTrak transponder and a valid account with any toll agency in California.

Vehicles with two people will be able to travel on the 405 Express Lanes for free during non-peak hours when they open.

Solo drivers – and two-person carpools during peak hours – will have the option to pay a toll to use the lanes, helping them reach their destinations more quickly. 

All vehicles are required to have a FasTrak transponder, which can be used on any toll facility in California, and a valid account. To take advantage of the free tolls for carpoolers on the 405 Express Lanes, drivers must have a switchable FasTrak Flex transponder. Switchable Flex transponders can be purchased through any California toll agency.

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. Drivers can enter or exit the facility from I-405, SR-73, SR-22 and I-605. In addition, drivers on I-405 can enter or exit the 405 Express Lanes at Magnolia Street / Warner Avenue, and Bolsa Avenue / Goldenwest Street, providing opportunities to reach every interchange and business along the corridor.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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