OCTA committee recommends a 405 Freeway plan

Potentially killing a proposal to add toll lanes to the San Diego (405) Freeway, an Orange County Transportation Authority committee voted this week to recommend a different expansion plan.

The Regional Planning and Highways Committee unanimously voted Monday to endorse an alternative that would add one general-purpose lane to both sides of the 405 between the San Gabriel River (605) and the Corona del Mar (73) freeways.

The full OCTA board still has to approve the plan.

The roadway has been the subject of much debate among city officials and residents opposed to toll lanes. OCTA staff members and county business leaders, though, endorsed the toll proposal because it could provide the most mobility on a stretch of Southern California's busiest freeway.

The eight-member highways committee weighed the concerns of the cities and voted to choose the least expensive option, Alternative 1, which is projected to cost $1.3 billion.

Their chosen plan "really delivers what was promised to the voters in Measure M," said OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik, referring to the voter-approved half-cent sales tax that funds county transportation projects.

Alternative 1 is expected to cut travel time by more than half for vehicles heading north during the evening rush hour.

That's not enough for Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever, who along with leaders in five other cities, endorsed Alternative 2. Their favored proposal would cost about $100 million more and add two general-purpose lanes in each direction.

With Alternative 1, Bever said, "We would still have the bottleneck problem and the backup into Costa Mesa every evening."

But the additional $100 million in funding has not yet been identified for Alternative 2, and that could be a serious obstacle with the OCTA board.

If the board chooses Alternative 1, OCTA could still add a toll lane or a general-purpose lane in the future, Zlotnik said.

Bever plans to attend OCTA's board meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, when the full board will vote on the matter. Eight of the 16 board members serve on the highways committee and voted in favor of Alternative 1. Later this year, the California Department of Transportation will make the final decision.


Twitter: @mreicher

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