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OCTA votes to expand 405 Freeway without toll lanes

The OCTA board voted to add a lane to the 405 Freeway between Costa Mesa and Seal Beach, avoiding the issue of toll lanes.
December 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Orange County Transportation Authority board members voted to add new lanes to one of the busiest stretches of freeway in the country Monday.

A new lane will be added in each direction of the 405 Freeway between Costa Mesa and the Los Angeles County line in Seal Beach.

The stretch of the highway is the busiest in the country, handling up to about 379,000 vehicles on busy days, according to a 2011 survey.

Three proposals that were under consideration by the OCTA hoped to alleviate the congestion. But before Monday's board meeting, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) took center stage to oppose the most controversial of the proposed plans - toll lanes.

"Alternative 3 and toll lanes are bad for Orange County and bad for the 405," said Mansoor who said he would introduce legislation to block the toll lanes.

The 405 Improvement Project calls for a half-cent tax to build at least one additional lane in each direction, along an 11-mile stretch of highway between Costa Mesa and Seal Beach. The plan is one many want to see move forward, unless it includes the addition of toll lanes.

"If this happens and goes forward, this is just another example of highway robbery," said Westminster City Councilmember Diana Cary.

Seal Beach City Councilmember Mike Levit also opposed the toll lane plan and says the $10 price tag is just not affordable.

"Seniors everywhere cannot afford to spend up to $10 a day to go where they've been able to go, for simply the taxes they've already paid," said Levit.

After a contentious debate, OCTA board members voted 11-4 to expand the 405 Freeway in each direction by a single lane from Euclid Street to the 605 Freeway and drop the proposal for toll lanes.

OCTA director Todd Spitzer who opposed the vote says toll lanes may be revisited in the future.

Under the plan voted on Monday, two lanes will be added at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion paid for by Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters for transportation movements.

An environmental report on the lanes is expected to be done by summer, with construction beginning in 2015, said OCTA spokesman Ted Nguyen.

CNS contributed to this report.


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