A Long Beach-area section of the 405 freeway is the second-worst bottleneck for traffic in the country, according to a study released this week by the American Highway Users Alliance, Unclogging America’s Arteries.
The study identifies the 50 worst highway bottlenecks across the nation. It lists the 4.1 mile stretch of the 405 between the SR 22 and the I-605 Freeway at number two for worst bottlenecks in the country, just below a stretch of the I-90 in Chicago, Illinois.
The study states that the annual total delay for this section of freeway, which reaches into Long Beach, is 7.1 million hours, costing residents $191 million in lost time and wasting 1.8 million in fuel, using the latest observed vehicle speed data from the HERE/ATRI data set.
“This situation is untenable for the world’s largest economy,” the report states, referring to the 50 worst bottlenecks. “To unclog America’s arteries will require significant investments—not only in capacity but also in the form of improved operations and technologies to lessen impacts and get traffic moving.”
The report comes at a time when the city is preparing to battle CalTrans and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) over increased traffic from the proposed I-405 Freeway Improvement Project, which is set to begin construction next year.
The project would expand the freeway by four lanes and include an express lane stretching from Costa Mesa to where the 405 intersects the 22 freeway. The express lanes would operate much like the ones already existing on the 91 and 110 Freeways, but whether or not a transponder would be required or how high the fares would be has yet to be determined.
Mayor Robert Garcia called the project "unacceptable," and Assistant City Attorney Michael Mais said that because of the construction that would occur east of Long Beach and then cease at the border, it would create a bottleneck effect at the 605 interchange resulting in a “traffic nightmare.”
The proposed plans would expand the freeway between Long Beach and Costa Mesa to about 16 lanes, but then reduce down to about 10 lanes at the 605. The city’s lawsuit is seeking mitigation measures from the parties to help it better deal with the influx of traffic that it is expected to incur on surface streets. Mais projected it would involve about a 39 percent increase, once the project is completed.
Meanwhile, the American Highway Users Alliance asserted their report has been released at a critical time, as Congress is about to advance its the first long-term highway bill since 2005.
“States will have a much greater ability to plan and implement major congestion relief projects,” the report states. “Reinvesting in our critical infrastructure advances national economic competitiveness, safety, the environment, and quality of life for millions of Americans.”
Several other portions of Los Angeles County freeways clinched spots in the top 10 for worst bottlenecks in the country. Such spots include:
- The I-10 between Santa Fe Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard (rank: 3).
- The I-405 between Venice Boulevard and Wilshire Boulvard (rank: 4).
- The US 101 between Franklin Avenue and Glendale Boulevard (rank: 5).
- The I-110 between Exposition Boulevard and Stadium Way (rank: 6).
- The US 101 between Sepulveda Boulevard and Laurel Canyon Boulevard (rank: 7).
Pictures, Above and Thumbnail: File photos.