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Construction begins on widening 405 Freeway

May 8, 2009 |  3:24 pm


Construction began today on the last leg of a carpool lane for the northbound San Diego Freeway — a $1-billion project designed to ease congestion on one of the busiest traffic corridors in the nation.

Officials for Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority say the additional lane will reduce delays on the north side of the 405 and allow motorists to travel continuously in a carpool lane from Orange County to the San Fernando Valley.

Stretching 72 miles, it will be the longest high-occupancy-vehicle lane in the country, officials said. The new single-lane construction will run 10 miles from the 10 Freeway north to the 101 Freeway interchange.

Plans call for new on- and off-ramps, bridge construction, 18 miles of retaining walls and widening the busy Sepulveda Pass area. Completion of the project is scheduled for spring 2013. Every day, motorists make about 300,000 trips on the San Diego Freeway through West Los Angeles, while more than 500,000 drivers converge daily on the 405-101 interchange, one of the most heavily used in the country.

The 405 is a principal route for those traveling southbound from the San Fernando Valley to west Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport, the South Bay and Orange County. The highway’s northbound carpool lanes are complete except for the stretch between the 10 and 101 freeways. Workers are also finishing a section of the southbound carpool lanes between the 90 and the 10 freeways.

MTA officials estimate that the project will cost $1.03 billion. The authority’s board awarded Kiewit Pacific Co. the construction contract in late April. The project now has enough money from local, state and federal sources to continue work for 15 months. MTA officials are concerned that $662 million in state funding might not be available in time to keep the project on schedule. If the lane is not finished on time, they say, MTA could lose more than $200 million in federal funds.

-- Dan Weikel