Major Freeway Improvements: 1 Done, Another
The $125 million improvement to the 405/55 interchange
will be completed this month. Meanwhile, a $490 million
project to improve traffic flow on the Garden Grove Freeway
is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving 2006, a schedule
called "aggressive but achievable" by the deputy
With one huge freeway project under way and another just
completed, Orange County Transportation Authority is doing
its best to stay in the battle.
OCTA senior civil
engineer Kory Hariri, left, and Caltrans resident engineer
Arsalan Naderi inspect the progress of work at the I-405/SR-55
interchange (photo courtesy of OCTA).
"It's tough to keep up with the population growth in
Orange County," said Michael Litschi, OCTA spokesperson.
"But we're trying."
The county's population has jumped to 3 million, up from
700,000 in the 1960's.
The agency's current whopper-a $490 million upgrade of the
Garden Grove Freeway (State Route 22)-is the most expensive
freeway project ever undertaken by the OCTA.
The project consists of adding high-occupancy vehicle carpool
lanes and auxiliary lanes in each direction along a 12-mi.
stretch of the 22, passing through the cities of Orange, Santa
Ana, Garden Grove, Westminster and Cypress.
Other project features include improved on/off ramps, sound
mitigation through sound walls, new intelligent transportation
systems, lighting and landscaping.
This freeway has had no major improvements since it was built
in the 1960s to handle about 115,000 cars a day.
OCTA says that traffic volumes on this freeway currently
register more than 200,000 cars per day and are anticipated
to reach 350,000 by 2020. When complete, OCTA expects the
22 freeway project to increase rush-hour speeds by as much
as 33 mph near the "Orange Crush" interchange-the
confluence of Interstate 5, State Route 57 and State Route
The design-build project broke ground in September and is
headed by the joint venture team Granite-Myers-Rados, JV.
The team is made up of Watsonville-based Granite Construction
Co., Rancho Cordova-based C. C. Myers Inc., and Santa Ana-based
Steve P. Rados Inc.
The GMR team will provide both design and construction of
the officially named SR-22 Improvement Project. Design will
be provided by the GMR team through San Francisco-based URS
This is the first design-build project for OCTA. Caltrans
has experience with the method, but this is the first design-build
improvement project on an active freeway. According to OCTA,
design-build will shave approximately three years off the
traditional design-bid-build method of project delivery.
"This project is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving
2006, 800 days from groundbreaking," said Jim Laing,
Granite's deputy project director. "It's an aggressive
but achievable schedule."
The Garden Grove Freeway project is being funded through
a combination of sources. 'Measure M,' the half-cent transportation
sales tax approved by Orange County voters in 1990, will fund
approximately half of the project. The balance is covered
by a combination of federal, state and local funds.
OCTA's other big project is the $125 million Interstate 405/State
Route 55 Improvement Project, which will be completed this
The San Diego Freeway (I-405) and Costa Mesa Freeway (SR-55)
interchange is one of the 10 busiest in the nation. This project,
which broke ground in 1999, was designed to improve traffic
flow in the South Coast Metro and John Wayne Airport areas.
"There is never a moment when there isn't cars,"
said Bob Schneider of Rancho Cordova-based general contractor
C.C. Myers Inc. "Even in the middle of the night, when
you think that there aren't that many cars, traffic starts
backing up for long distances."
Project highlights include new direct carpool lanes connecting
the southbound 55 with the northbound 405 and the reverse.
The venture is one of the last components of the 120-mi. HOV
or carpool lane system in Orange County.
The I-405/SR-55 Improvement Project was a joint partnership
between OCTA and Caltrans. Seventy percent of the project's
funding will come from Measure M, and the balance from federal
and city of Costa Mesa funds.
C.C. Myers and Sacramento-based MCM Construction served as
Currently, all store shells are complete and interior work
has begun. About 30 percent of the shops are open, such as
Macaroni Grill, Staples, Islands Burgers, See's Candies, Barnes
& Noble, Kohl's, Starbuck's and Circuit City. Existing
tenants such as Burlington Coat Factory and Mervyn's have
remained open during construction, while receiving Tuscan-styled
Located off the Beach Boulevard exit of the San Diego (405)
Freeway, Bella Terra also features a 1,540-space, six-level
Mediterranean-style parking structure, built by Anaheim Hills-based
Bomel Construction Co. and designed by Sherman Oaks-based
International Parking Design.
Other members of the project team include general contractor
Dolan Construction of Irvine (retail core and shell); L.A.
Group (landscape architect); and Triple A of Pomona (demolition).