The OC Go freeway program includes 30 project segments that will remedy traffic chokepoints and relieve congestion on Orange County freeways. To date, 13 freeway segments have been completed and four more are in construction during 2020.
I-5 (SR-55 and SR-57) Project
In partnership with Caltrans, OCTA added a second high occupancy vehicle lane in both directions along I-5 between SR-55 and SR-57 to relieve traffic congestion, alleviate bottlenecks and improve traffic operations on this corridor within the cities of Orange, Santa Ana and Tustin. The new high occupancy vehicle lanes opened to traffic in August 2020 and construction activities were completed in December 2020.
I-405 Improvement Project
This $2 billion project will improve 16 miles of the I‐405 in both directions between SR-73 and I-605 through the cities of Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, and Westminster. The project will add one regular lane in each direction between Euclid Street and I-605 and make improvements to freeway entrances, exits and bridges. Also, the project will add the 405 Express Lanes, incorporating the existing carpool lanes and a new lane in each direction between SR-73 and I-605. The general-purpose lane portion of the project is funded by OC Go with a combination of local, state and federal funds. The 405 Express Lanes are separately funded and will be paid for by those who choose to pay a toll and use them.
OCTA continued significant work on replacing and reconstructing street crossings with wider bridges along the project corridor. In October 2020, the Bushard Street and McFadden Avenue bridges fully opened to traffic. These are one-stage bridges, which means they are closed to traffic during reconstruction. In addition, the first halves of the new Bolsa Chica Road (March 2020) Goldenwest Street (June 2020), and Magnolia Avenue (June 2020) bridges opened to traffic. These are two-stage bridges, which means traffic is being maintained on the remaining portion of the bridge while the first half of the new bridge is reconstructed. Of the 18 total bridge replacements, 11 bridges are under construction, three have been completed, and four are anticipated to start construction in 2021.
As of December 2020, the project was approximately 50 percent complete and is anticipated to be finished in 2023.
I-5 (SR-73 to El Toro Road) Widening Project
From SR-73 to El Toro Road, OCTA and Caltrans are working together to implement the I-5 Widening Project to address traffic volume, which is anticipated to increase 25 percent by 2045.
Located adjacent to the cities of Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, and Mission Viejo, the $577 million freeway improvement project will be built in three segments and includes numerous roadway, structural and operational improvements.
In 2020, the southern segment (SR-73 to Oso Parkway) and northern segment (Alicia Parkway to El Toro Road) started construction in January and October, respectively. In addition, construction continued on the middle segment (Oso Parkway and Alicia Parkway), which includes reconstruction of the La Paz Road interchange. All three segments are now under construction, with the first segment anticipated to be completed in 2023.
Every trip begins with a local street or road. Keeping them in good shape is an important component of OC Go.
In 2020, OCTA distributed $55.8 million in OC Go Local Fair Share funds to cities and the County of Orange to preserve existing streets and roads and to provide other transportation improvements based on the priorities and infrastructure needs determined by local jurisdictions. In addition, the OCTA Board of Directors approved over $23 million for eight projects through the Regional Capacity Program, which funds intersection improvements and other street improvement projects to help reduce congestion.
Driving through multiple cities stopping at red lights can be frustrating and time consuming. OC Go helps synchronize traffic lights across the county to improve the drive quality. To date, OCTA has synchronized more than 3,000 signalized intersections.
The Regional Traffic Signal Synchronization Program has optimized signal timing throughout Orange County on 3,003 signalized intersections along 772 miles of roadway. It also funds the infrastructure that coordinates the traffic signal systems and the communications pathways needed for future data sharing and connections. Currently, there are 28 projects planned or in progress.
During 2020, OCTA implemented seven projects that synchronized 161 signals along 41.6 miles. The corridors include:
- Marguerite Parkway (Mission Viejo)
- El Toro Road (Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, County of Orange)
- Anaheim Boulevard (Anaheim)
- Irvine Center Drive/Edinger Avenue (Irvine, Tustin)
- Von Karman Avenue/Tustin Ranch Road (Irvine, Tustin)
- Sunflower Avenue (Costa Mesa)
- Camino Vera Cruz (San Clemente)
In May 2020, the OCTA Board of Directors also approved $12.1 million to fund six new synchronization projects:
- Baker Street-Placentia Avenue/Victoria Street/19th Street Route (Costa Mesa)
- Bolsa Chica Street (Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Westminster)
- Barranca Parkway (Irvine, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana)
- Lambert Road Corridor (La Habra, Brea)
- Tustin Avenue/Rose Drive (Orange, Anaheim, Placentia, Santa Ana, Tustin, Yorba Linda)
- Seal Beach Boulevard (Seal Beach, County of Orange, Los Alamitos)
As a result of this program, Orange County drivers experience less stop-and-go traffic. This allows them to save money on gas and reduce emissions and greenhouse gases. To date, the program has resulted in:
- 89 traffic signal synchronization corridor projects implemented
- $132.3 million in overall funding awarded by OCTA Board of Directors, including $25.5 million in leveraged external funding
- 13% average travel time savings
- 29% reduction in stops
- 14% average speed improvement
Currently under construction, this public transit option is designed to move residents, employees, and visitors through the heart of the county and will be the first modern streetcar in California.
OC Streetcar’s 4.15-mile route will connect to existing rail and bus routes in Orange County and beyond, including the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center that serves Metrolink and Amtrak travelers throughout Southern California.
Major construction activities continued in 2020 with the construction of the Santa Ana River and Westminster Avenue bridges, the Maintenance and Storage Facility, and utility relocation. In December 2020, the first rail was set into the street at the intersection of Santa Ana Boulevard and Bristol Street. Other project activities in 2020 include continued production of the eight vehicles and the award of the operations and maintenance contract.
To support businesses located along the future OC Streetcar route, OCTA continued to offer marketing assistance to increase exposure and foot traffic through the Eat Shop Play program. In February 2020, the OCTA Board of Directors approved partnerships with two local downtown business associations to increase and enhance support through additional resources for events and marketing efforts during construction.
Temporary programs were developed to meet the needs of seniors during the pandemic.
The Senior Mobility Program (SMP) fills the gap between local fixed-route buses and ACCESS service by providing transportation services to seniors in 32 cities in Orange County. OCTA and the participating cities contribute to the program.
To provide flexibility for cities during the pandemic, OCTA temporarily modified the SMP guidelines. The modifications let cities continue services to seniors in their communities with no lapse in service following the departure of a transportation provider and allow meal delivery in lieu of transporting seniors to senior centers for meals.
Each day, commuters and other travelers use convenient Metrolink trains to get to work or other destinations within Orange County or the adjoining counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego.
Orange County has 12 Metrolink stations served by three lines – Orange County (OC) Line, Inland Empire Orange County (IEOC) Line, and 91/Perris Valley (91/PV) Line. Metrolink service relies on an operating subsidy, which OCTA funds through OC Go. As a result of the pandemic and related stay-at-home orders issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom, Metrolink ridership was impacted, resulting in some service reduction. To protect riders and Metrolink employees, Metrolink enhanced safety protocols by:
- Cleaning and disinfection of trains with an electrostatic sprayer throughout the day
- Deep cleaning trains twice a day
- Installing new state-of-the-art antimicrobial air filters on all trains
- Developing a digital tool to gauge train capacity
OC Go also provides funding for rail line and station improvements. In 2020, construction of new track adjacent to the existing mainline track from Laguna Niguel to San Juan Capistrano was substantially completed, which enhances service efficiency and reliability. In addition, final design of platform and track improvements at the Anaheim Canyon Metrolink Station was completed and advertised for construction bids.
The Safe Transit Stops program provides funding to improve passenger amenities and ease transfers at the 100 busiest transit stops across Orange County.
In September 2020, the OCTA Board of Directors approved over $1 million for passenger amenity improvements at 35 transit stops to enhance the overall transit experience. Since 2011, OCTA has awarded over $3 million for 122 transit stop improvements.
The Environmental Cleanup Program (ECP) uses OC Go funds for local projects that clean transportation-related pollutants from Orange County’s waterways.
In October 2020, the OCTA Board of Directors approved $2.8 million to fund 12 water quality improvement projects. Since 2011, approximately $54.7 million has been awarded for 211 projects from all 34 cities and the County of Orange. Through these projects, it is estimated that the equivalent of nearly 78 football fields one foot deep in trash has been captured.