Despite the extra lane, the San Diego freeway was backed up worse than normal Friday morning due to a tanker spill, and the milestone opening was overshadowed by the accident just north of the Wilshire Boulevard exit.
Transportation officials say 1,500 to 2,000 vehicles go through that stretch of the freeway per hour, so the new 1.7-mile northbound lane will help ease congestion at one of the worst freeway interchanges in the nation.
"Adding another lane of capacity in that bottleneck is going to make a big difference. But also, we're improving the shoulders, we're standardizing the lanes," said Metro spokesman Mark Littman. "It's going to be a safer freeway. It's going to be easier to get on and off when all these improvements are done."
Metro and Caltrans planned the opening to coincide with the holiday weekend and provide congestion relief for motorists.
The K-rails are still up because crews still have a lot of work to do to complete the widening of the 405 Freeway between the 10 and 101 freeways.
The overall $1-billion project has hit some major roadblocks recently. It's delayed and over budget by $100 million. Utility and piping issues along Sepulveda Boulevard have pushed the project back by as much as a year.