The US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is celebrating the completion of the West County Connectors Project in Orange County, California. The US$293m project, which was designed to improve mobility in one of state’s most heavily congested regions, relied on US$141m in federal-aid funds, of which US$57m is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project was a joint partnership between the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and links high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes/carpool lanes on the San Diego Freeway (I-405) with those on the Garden Grove Freeway (SR-22) and San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605), to create a seamless carpool connection among the three freeways. The 6 miles (9.6km) project route creates a better link between the cities of Garden Grove, Westminster, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Long Beach and Rossmoor. The improvements include two direct carpool connectors and the addition of a second carpool lane in each direction on the I-405 between SR-22 and I-605. The project has also reconstructed numerous on- and off-ramps, and improved landscaping along the route.
The Obama Administration recently announced a plan to address the infrastructure deficit with a US$478bn, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal. The plan makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, improves the country’s roads, bridges, transit systems, railways, and aviation systems; enhances safety; spurs job creation; and improves the way federal dollars are spent. On average, the proposal will increase the amount of highway funds by about 29% above current levels. “This project will help relieve congestion on one of the nation’s busiest highways,” said US Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. “This is exactly why we need a long-term transportation bill; so we can continue investing in projects that have a direct impact on people’s lives.” Acting FHWA Administrator, Gregory Nadeau, added, “The West Connectors Project will cut commuter time and make travel more efficient. It will help the economy grow by making it easier for people in the area to access jobs, and for businesses to expand.”