I-405 (I-5 to SR-55)

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  • I-405 (SR-55 to I-5)

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    The Environmental Review Process

    The I-405 (SR-55 to I-5) Improvement Project is currently in the Project Approval and Environmental Document (PA/ED) Phase, commonly referred to as the environmental study process. As mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an Initial Study and Environmental Assessment (IS/EA) environmental document was prepared.

    At the heart of CEQA and NEPA is the public’s interest in the environment. In general, the purpose of the environmental review process is to identify a proposed project’s potential environmental effects and to develop measures to avoid, minimize and/or mitigate these effects.

    The IS/EA will assess a wide range of topics including, but not limited to: air quality, noise, natural environment, community impacts, visual impacts, relocation impacts, cultural resources, water quality, floodplain impacts, and paleontological resources. A Draft IS/EA comprehensively details information of each study, and is available for public review and comment during a public review period from Nov. 14, 2017 through Dec. 15, 2017. A public hearing was held on Dec. 5, 2017 during the public review period at University Community Park in Irvine.

    Project Study Report–Project Development Support 

    The Project Study Report–Project Development Support (PSR-PDS) was approved by Caltrans on December 10, 2013. The PSR-PDS is a preliminary planning document and describes the transportation problem, identifies the scope of viable alternatives, and provides an estimate of the project development support resources required. A Preliminary Environmental Assessment Report (PEAR) was also prepared as part of the PSR-PDS. 

    No detours are anticipated to take place during the environmental review process.
    Overview
    Details

    The Environmental Review Process

    The I-405 (SR-55 to I-5) Improvement Project is currently in the Project Approval and Environmental Document (PA/ED) Phase, commonly referred to as the environmental study process. As mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an Initial Study and Environmental Assessment (IS/EA) environmental document was prepared.

    At the heart of CEQA and NEPA is the public’s interest in the environment. In general, the purpose of the environmental review process is to identify a proposed project’s potential environmental effects and to develop measures to avoid, minimize and/or mitigate these effects.

    The IS/EA will assess a wide range of topics including, but not limited to: air quality, noise, natural environment, community impacts, visual impacts, relocation impacts, cultural resources, water quality, floodplain impacts, and paleontological resources. A Draft IS/EA comprehensively details information of each study, and is available for public review and comment during a public review period from Nov. 14, 2017 through Dec. 15, 2017. A public hearing was held on Dec. 5, 2017 during the public review period at University Community Park in Irvine.

    Project Study Report–Project Development Support 

    The Project Study Report–Project Development Support (PSR-PDS) was approved by Caltrans on December 10, 2013. The PSR-PDS is a preliminary planning document and describes the transportation problem, identifies the scope of viable alternatives, and provides an estimate of the project development support resources required. A Preliminary Environmental Assessment Report (PEAR) was also prepared as part of the PSR-PDS. 

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  • Caltrans and OCTA Seek Public Comments

    Caltrans and OCTA are proposing improvements to the I-405 between I-5 and SR-55 to address freeway congestion and make travel more efficient. Currently in the Project Approval/Environmental Document (PA/ED) phase, commonly referred to as the environmental study phase, OCTA and Caltrans have studied the potential benefits and effects of adding one or two general-purpose lanes in each direction, adding auxiliary lanes and making various operational improvements. The environmental study phase kicked-off in early 2015 and is anticipated to be complete in mid-2018.

    Studies indicate the proposed project will not significantly affect the quality of the environment.

    A draft environmental document has been prepared that evaluates the project’s potential benefits and effects, and we’d like your input. This document is available for public review and comments between November 14 and December 15, 2017.

    View the draft environmental document at the following locations:

    • Caltrans District 12; 1750 East 4th Street, Suite 100; Santa Ana, CA 92705
    • Heritage Park Branch Library; 14361 Yale Avenue; Irvine, CA 92604
    • Mesa Verde Branch Library; 2969 Mesa Verde Drive E; Costa Mesa, CA 92626
    • El Toro Branch Library; 24672 Raymond Way; Lake Forest, CA 92630

    Public Hearing (Open House Format) on December 5, 2017:

    Join Caltrans and OCTA at the upcoming public hearing (open house format) to learn about the proposed project improvements, meet the project team, ask questions, and submit comments.

    Tuesday Dec. 5, 2017 | 5 – 8 p.m.
    University Community Park
    Multipurpose Room 2
    1 Beech Tree Lane, Irvine, CA 92612
     

    Deadline to Comment is December 15, 2017:

    Your comments are very important in the decision making process. Comments received will be included and responded to in the proposed final environmental document. There are three ways to comment:

    • SUBMIT at the public hearing (open house) on December 5, 2017
    • EMAIL D12.405-South-Improvement-Project@dot.ca.gov
    • MAIL to Scott Shelley, Caltrans District 12, Division of Environmental Analysis, 1750 E 4th Street, Suite 100, Santa Ana, CA 92705

    About the Project Area

    Interstate 405 between I-5 and SR-55 plays a central role in progressing Orange County’s mobility, economy and quality of life. This section of I-405 provides direct and indirect access to residential communities, employment centers, cultural and recreational facilities, John Wayne Airport, and some of the region’s top medical and academic institutions.

    This 8.5 mile segment of I-405 is one of the busiest stretches of freeway in the nation, as well as one of the most congested. Forecasted local and regional traffic demand is expected to increase about 15%, resulting in 255,000 and 291,000 vehicles per day by 2050. To address current and future travel demand on this corridor, OCTA and Caltrans District 12 are studying the I-405 South Improvement Project.


    Proposed Improvements

    Three alternatives are currently under consideration, one No Build Alternative and two Build Alternatives. The No Build Alternative includes no improvements from the proposed project but assumes completion of other planned improvements in the study area that are currently underway by Caltrans. The Build Alternatives would increase capacity and ease merging operations by adding one or two general-purpose lanes in the northbound and southbound directions. Both Build Alternatives also propose the realignment of ramps, changing the existing limited carpool lane access to continuous access, as well as numerous operational improvements.

    Measure M: Promises Made, Promises Kept

    The environmental phase of the I-405 South Improvement Project is funded by Measure M, a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation investments approved by over 70% of Orange County voters. The total estimated cost of the proposed project is between $240 and $260 million, depending on the alternative approved.

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    FAQ

    • 1. What is the I-405 South Improvement Project?
      The I-405 South Improvement Project from I-5 to SR-55 is a proposed freeway improvement project currently in the Project Approval and Environmental Document (PA/ED) phase, commonly referred to as the environmental study phase. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are studying how to address congestion and enhance freeway operations between the I-5 and SR-55 freeways, by adding one or two general-purpose (regular) lanes in each direction, converting buffer-separated HOV (carpool) lanes to continuous access, extending merge lanes, and making various operational improvements to I-405 in the City of Irvine.
    • 2. What agencies are responsible for the proposed project?
      OCTA is funding and managing the environmental study phase, and Caltrans is the Lead Agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is responsible for oversight and approval of the alternative to move forward for design and construction.
    • 3. Why is the proposed project necessary?

      The I-405 freeway through Irvine plays a central role in progressing Orange County’s mobility, economy and quality of life. This section of I-405 is already at capacity and in need of operational improvements. Studies forecast that average daily traffic will grow from 255,000 to 291,000 by 2050. So, improving operations is necessary to keep this segment of I-405 and Orange County moving.

    • 4. What are the benefits of the proposed project?

      The proposed project is developed to address existing and projected congestion, and improve freeway operations. Some specific benefits include: better travel times, reduced congestion, and improved weaving and ramp operations. For more information, consult Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.1.6 of the draft environmental document.

    • 5. Who approved and who is paying for the proposed project?

      In 2006, nearly 70% of voters approved Measure M, a county-wide half-cent sales tax to fund Orange County’s Transportation Investment Plan. In doing so, voters supported improving I-405. In the Measure M2 Next-10 Plan, adopted by the OTCA Board of Directors in late 2016, the I-405 Improvement Project (from I-5 to SR-55) is identified as one of the M freeway projects to be approved through the environmental study phase. The project is part of Measure M, and is committed to be delivered and constructed beyond the Next-10 plan timeframe with a combination of Measure M and external funding sources. For more information on Measure M, consult www.octa.net. The environmental study phase of the project is also funded in part by Measure M and the federal Surface Transportation Block Grant Program.

    • 6. What alternatives are being studied?

      Three alternatives were evaluated in the draft environmental document, including one No Build Alternative and two Build Alternatives. Alternative 1 represents the No Build Alternative which includes no improvements from the proposed project but assumes completion of other planned improvements in the study area that are currently underway by Caltrans. Two Build Alternatives add lanes from north of Irvine Center Drive to south of Jamboree Road. Alternatives 2 adds a single general-purpose (regular) lane and an auxiliary (merge) lane in each direction. Alternative 3 includes the general-purpose (regular) lanes described in Alternative 2 and an additional general-purpose (regular) lane in each direction. Build Alternatives 2 and 3 also propose ramp capacity improvements, changing the existing HOV (carpool) lane buffer to continuous access, as well as numerous operational improvements.

    • 7. What is the environmental study and why is it necessary?

      The environmental study is mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which were enacted to protect the quality of human, physical, and biological environments. In accordance with these laws, agencies must follow a protocol of analysis and public disclosure in their decision making process for any proposed project which may potentially impact the environment. In this process, OCTA and Caltrans analyze effects the project may cause on physical, biological and human environments. If it is determined that the proposed project may have potentially significant effects, measures to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate such impacts must be considered and implemented. For more information on CEQA, go to www.resources.ca.gov/ceqa, and for more info on NEPA, go to https://ceq.doe.gov/guidance/guidance.html.

    • 8. What is studied in the environmental study process?

      Numerous environmental areas are studied, including but not limited to: noise, air quality, traffic, water quality, animal/plant communities, visual/aesthetics, land use, cultural and paleontological resources, community impacts and cumulative impacts. All environmental technical studies are prepared in accordance with legal regulations and policies.

    • 9. Will private property need to be acquired to build this project?

      Yes. Consistent with Measure M, Alternatives 2 and 3 would mostly be constructed within the existing public right-of-way. No full acquisitions, residential displacements, or nonresidential displacements are proposed. However, one partial acquisition and some temporary construction easements would be required to construct the proposed improvements, including soundwalls. The area subject to partial acquisition is generally the back slope of a parking lot serving commercial property. For more information on right-of-way, refer to Chapter 2.1.4.2 of the draft environmental document and/or speak with a Right-of-Way Specialist at the public hearing.

    • 10. Will new soundwalls be built as part of the proposed project?

      A Noise Study Report (NSR) and Noise Abatement Decision Report (NADR) were completed as part of the environmental study. Noise abatement in the form of soundwalls are proposed when the future noise level with the project exceeds or approaches the noise abatement criteria (NAC) and are both feasible and reasonable. The final decision on noise abatement will be made upon completion of the project design. Feasibility generally relates to a soundwall’s expected capacity to reduce noise, while reasonability generally relates to the soundwall’s cost. As part of Alternatives 2 and 3, six soundwalls are proposed for further consideration along the project to reduce noise impacts. Existing soundwalls that will not be relocated or replaced will remain in place.

    • 11. What if no soundwall is being proposed for my neighborhood?

      Members of the public can view noise study results in the NSR. Similarly, members of the public can view reasonable allowances, estimated costs and noise barrier recommendations in the NADR. By consulting these documents and data, members of the public will confirm why a studied soundwall was determined to be not feasible and/or not reasonable.

    • 12. Are there any changes being proposed to the carpool (HOV) lanes?

      Yes. Both Alternatives 2 and 3 call for modifying the carpool lanes from “buffer-separated carpool lanes” to “continuous access carpool lanes” throughout the project limits. Continuous access carpool lanes are striped with broken white lines to allow “carpoolers” to enter and/or exit the carpool lanes at any time along the route. By contrast, the existing “buffer-separated” lanes only allow carpoolers to enter and exit at specific locations. In Orange County, continuous access carpool lanes are operational on freeways such as SR-22, SR-55, SR-57 and SR-91.

    • 13. Will any bridges need to be reconstructed?

      Yes. In Alternatives 2 and 3, two bridge structures including the San Diego Creek Channel Reach 1 and San Diego Creek Channel Reach 2 would be widened to the north. In addition, a new bridge is proposed on the northbound side of I-405 for new braided ramps between SR-133 and Sand Canyon Avenue.

    • 14. What will happen to existing biking and walking paths?

      Alternatives 2 and 3 would not result in any direct permanent impacts to recreation areas. During construction, however, Alternatives 2 and 3 would result in temporary impacts to the San Diego Creek Trails (north and south) and the Freeway Trail. On these trails, full closure would likely be necessary for a period of time to accommodate bridge widening and soundwall construction. Detour paths will be provided during closure. For more information, refer to Appendix A of the draft environmental document.

    • 15. Will there be additional improvements in the project corridor that will affect the proposed project?

      Caltrans is currently managing and implementing a series of planned improvements that are intended to further enhance safety and improve traffic operations along I-405 within the study area of the proposed project. These improvements are expected to be completed by the time the proposed project may begin construction, should a Build Alternative be approved. The I-405 South Improvement Project assumes completion of these improvements in all alternative designs.

    • 16. How will the proposed project effect the existing natural landscape?

      Alternatives 2 and 3 would likely decrease the amount of vegetation along the freeway and change the visual character and quality of the corridor, but would not be adversely impacted. Construction of the Build Alternatives would replace landscaping and replant trees to minimize visual impacts. The replanted trees would be skyline trees, more than 40 feet tall at mature height, which would help provide a similar character to the corridor over time. For more information, refer to Chapter 2.1.7 of the draft environmental document.

    • 17. How were the alternatives determined?

      As with other freeway improvement projects, the proposed project alternatives were developed through a preliminary planning document, the Project Study Report-Project Development Support (PSR-PDS). Approved by Caltrans on December 10, 2013, this document describes transportation issues within the project corridor, identifies the scope of viable alternatives, and provides an estimate of the project development support resources required. Those alternatives were carried forward to the current environmental study phase, and were further studied and refined based on technical studies.

    • 18. Who will approve an alternative?

      Caltrans is legally responsible for operating the I-405. As a result, the Director of Caltrans District 12 has the authority to approve a preferred alternative. The project development team (PDT), which is comprised of professional and technical staff from OCTA, Caltrans, the City of Irvine, and other agencies of jurisdiction, will recommend a Preferred Alternative.

    • 19. How can I get involved?

      Throughout the environmental study phase, OCTA and Caltrans will implement a public communications and community outreach program. The environmental study phase includes a public review and comment period, from Nov. 14, 2017 through Dec. 15, 2017. Members of the public have the opportunity to ask questions, view study results, and comment on the draft environmental document during a public hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. You can also receive project information and updates by visiting the project webpage and subscribing to the project email list.

    • 20. When and where can I read the draft environmental document (DED)?

      The document is available for public review at http://www.dot.ca.gov/d12/DEA/405/0K710/ or at the following locations from November 14 to December 15, 2017:

      • Caltrans District 12; 1750 East 4th Street, Suite 100, Santa Ana, CA 92705
      • Heritage Park Branch Library; 14361 Yale Avenue, Irvine, CA 92604
      • Mesa Verde Branch Library; 2969 Mesa Verde Drive E, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
      • El Toro Branch Library; 24672 Raymond Way, Lake Forest, CA 92630
    • 21. How can I submit comments on the draft environmental document (DED)?

      You may submit comments in writing. There are three ways to comment:

      • Submit at the public hearing (open house format) on December 5, 2017
      • Email D12.405-South-Improvement-Project@dot.ca.gov
      • Mail to Scott Shelley, Caltrans District 12, Division of Environmental Analysis, 1750 E 4th Street, Suite 100, Santa Ana, CA 92705
    • 22. What happens to public comments and when will responses be completed?

      Public comments received during the public review period of the draft environmental document will be reviewed and considered by Caltrans in the selection of the preferred alternative. Comments will be recorded and responded to within the final environmental document, and responses will not be sent directly to commenters. Responses will be available for the public to view in the final environmental document, anticipated to be approved mid-2018.

    • 23. What is the project schedule or timeline?

      The project’s environmental study phase was initiated in January 2015 and is anticipated to conclude in mid-2018. Throughout the environmental study process, preliminary design and technical studies for the environmental document were conducted. The draft environmental document has been published for public review and comments beginning on November 14, 2017 through December 15, 2017. A public hearing (open house format) will be held on December 5, 2017, during the 30-day public review period. At the conclusion of the comment period, the PDT will gather the input received and address comments as part of the final environmental document. Release of the final environmental document is expected by mid-2018. We anticipate the opening year of construction to be around 2030 and that is assumed in the studies. However, there is currently no funding identified for final design or construction. Should funding sources be identified, the earliest construction could begin is 2025.

    • 24. If a Build Alternative is approved, when will the project be constructed?

      Based on current information, the earliest construction could occur is 2025. However, funding sources for the subsequent development phases, beyond the environmental study phase, have not yet been identified.

    • 25. What are anticipated construction costs?

      The estimated cost of construction is between $240 and $260 million, depending on the build alternative approved.

    • 26. Where and when will the public hearing (open house format) take place?

      The December 5, 2017 public hearing (open house) will be held along the project corridor in Irvine, at University Community Park, 1 Beech Tree Lane, Irvine. Please visit the project webpage for additional details at www.octa.net/oc405south.

    • 27. Where can I learn more about the project?

      You can visit the project webpage at www.octa.net/oc405south, contact Fernando Chavarria of OCTA at 714-560-5306 or fchavarria@octa.net, or contact Andrea Hammann of OCTA at 714-560-5573 or ahammann@octa.net. You can also sign up for the email distribution list on the project webpage or follow the proposed project on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oc405south and Twitter at @oc405south.

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Public Participation and Community Engagement

At the heart of CEQA and NEPA is the public’s interest. And at the center of Measure M is a commitment to the taxpayer. 

Consistent with these public policy values, OCTA and Caltrans are implementing a public information and community engagement program that not only complies with, but exceeds public information mandates under CEQA and NEPA.

Throughout the environmental review process, OCTA and Caltrans will sustain a multimedia public communications and community engagement program intended to generate project awareness, and promote and facilitate public participation and comment.

In addition to the project webpage, the communications and engagement program will include:

  • Telephone helpline
  • Noticing and canvassing
  • Public information meetings
  • Elected official briefings
  • Community presentations
  • Social media alerts and updates
  • Open House
  • Constituent services

Stay Connected

The environmental review period is an excellent opportunity to ask questions or provide your input about the proposed project. The I-405 South Improvement Project has designated project outreach staff who will help guide you through the process.
To stay connected with milestone updates or receive invitations to community meetings, please sign up for our email distribution list.

 

Speakers Bureau

Civic and business organizations are invited to contact the project team to schedule a presentation about the proposed improvements, environmental studies, or transportation issues and activities countywide. For questions, please contact Fernando Chavarria, Manager of Community Outreach, or Andrea Hammann, Community Relations Specialist.

Public Information Meeting: Nov. 3, 2015

To kick-off the public participation process, a Public Information Meeting was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at University Community Park in Irvine. Members of the public were invited to join us at the meeting to learn about the project, meet the project development team, and most importantly, share comments. Details of the meeting are displayed below:

Tuesday, November 3
5:00 – 8:00 PM
University Community park
Multipurpose Room #2
1 Beech Tree Lane
Irvine, CA 92612

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