405 expansion in OC to add freeway congestion before improving it

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There is both good and bad news for 405 Freeway commuters in Orange County. (KABC)

Jimmy Baldwin isn't shy when talking about the 405 Freeway. He lives in Palmdale and takes it down to Orange County every day for work.

"It's terrible, it can be anywhere from four hours to get home, two hours to get home," Baldwin said.

The Orange County Transportation Agency says there are more than 300,000 vehicle trips in some stretches each day.

"Either fix it now or we're screwed, definitely," Baldwin said.

And Jimmy is right, it's getting worse.

"For the 16 miles between Costa Mesa and Long Beach, it takes about an hour in rush hour," said OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson. "We feel if we don't do anything over the next 20 years, that will double to two hours."

To combat the congestion, OCTA and its partners announced a $1.9 billion improvement project. It will add a general purpose lane and a tolled lane in each direction from State Route 73 to the 605 Freeway.

"This improvement project, we think will take it back to a half an hour in the general purpose lanes, and if you choose to take the tolled express lanes, you can make that trip in 15 minutes," said Johnson.

The extension is expected to open by 2023.

Many drivers like the plan but are worried about five years of added construction traffic. Officials, meanwhile, are asking for patience.

"This project is well worth the wait, and it will really improve mobility in the entire region," said Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.

"We're suffering through the traffic no matter what, time's going to pass no matter what, why not have something to show at the end of five years?" said Tustin resident Anthony Esquivel.

The project is being funded by the voter-approved half-cent sales tax as well as local, state and federal grants.
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