O.C. Fwy changing the way people carpool

ORANGE COUNTY A 5 1/2-mile stretch of the 55 Freeway in the cities of Tustin, Orange and Anaheim will be re-striped to allow continuous in-and-out access to carpool lanes.

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Starting next Tuesday night, crews will begin re-striping the carpool lanes on the 55 Freeway. They will be getting rid of the double-yellow line and replacing it with a broken line in an effort to make it easier for vehicles with two or more passengers to come and go as they please.

Usually in Southern California, carpool lanes restrict drivers to enter and exit in designated areas. The only other exception in Orange County is the 22 Freeway, which has had continuous access lanes since December 2006.

Many drivers say the unrestricted carpool lanes are convenient and help keep traffic moving. Authorities claim they are also safer.

"A study by UC Berkeley actually has shown that continuous access lanes are safer," said Orange Mayor Carolyn Cavecche. "Limited access lanes have a higher percentage of total collisions, a higher number of collisions per mile and those collisions are of a greater and most severe nature. So this isn't just going to be convenient for Orange County commuters, it is going to be safer."

In addition to continuous access to the carpool lanes, authorities plan to create an extra lane in each direction. The 55 was the only freeway in the state with a four-foot buffer separating carpool lanes from the regular lanes. A new state law eliminates the buffer requirement, allowing for widening of the 55 Freeway.

Crews will begin the conversion as part of a repaving project already planned for the 55 between 17th Street in Tustin, through a segment in Orange and concluding at the 91 Freeway interchange in Anaheim, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority. The re-striping will be done in one half-mile increments, and is expected to be completed before the end of August.


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