Three consultancies form JV to accelerate California’s I-405 Improvement Project

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A trio of multidisciplinary consultancies have formed a joint venture (JV) to provide engineering services for a major freeway improvement project in southern California that will relieve congestion on one of the busiest roads in the USA.

The US$1.9bn I-405 Improvement Project is being led by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in partnership with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and aims to shorten commute times for the 370,000 drivers who use the route every day. OCTA has contracted with OC 405 Partners, a joint venture between OHL USA and Astaldi Construction Corporation, to construct the design-build project. The expansion project will improve 16 miles (25.7km) of I-405 between the SR-73 freeway in Costa Mesa and I-605 near the LA County line. The project includes adding one regular lane in each direction from Euclid Street to I-605 and making improvements to freeway entrances, exits, and bridges.

The project will also see the construction of new 405 Express Lanes, which will incorporate the existing single carpool or high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes with an additional lane in each direction, to give solo drivers the option to speed up their commute for a toll, with carpoolers travelling for free.

The new tolled lanes will use congestion management pricing, which was pioneered by OCTA on the 91 Express Lanes. The system is designed to optimize express lanes traffic at free-flow speeds by using variable toll fees. OCTA will monitor hourly volumes and tolls are increased when traffic flow becomes unstable. If levels decrease, tolls are lowered to encourage usage. With traffic on I-405 expected to increase significantly by 2040, the method will halve travel times.

Three infrastructure consultancies, H W Lochner, Moffatt & Nichol and Arup, have formed the Pacific Infrastructure 405 Designers JV to provide planning, design and full engineering services, to move the project toward its intended 2023 completion date. The team will also be responsible for environmental, construction management, survey and right of way services for the scheme.

“We are all extremely excited to be joining with OC 405 Partners and with OCTA and Caltrans to deliver this important project for the many communities of Orange County,” commented Richard Prust, Arup principal and project director.

“We understand that designing and delivering this complex project will require complete collaboration between all parties, and that total dedication is critical to achieving OCTA’s vision for the improvements to this important transportation corridor.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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