OCTA I-405 Improvement Project Asks Long Beach to Pay Portion of Costs

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A public meeting will be held Wednesday night to allow Long Beach residents to provide comment on an updated proposal to widen the 405 in Orange County that details traffic impacts in Long Beach and calls for the city to share in a portion of mitigation costs.

Since the project’s updated Environmental Impact Report was released by the California Department of Transportation and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), in June, 4th District Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell has attempted to raise awareness of its implications, most notably, the requirement that the city fund an undecided fair share percentage of the cost.

At city council meeting last Tuesday, O’Donnell addressed the new EIR, specifically its statement that “a Cooperative Agreement shall identify the project’s fair share of the costs for the improvements at intersections owned by the City of Long Beach.”

“[OCTA and CalTrans] shut down the westbound 7th Street without us in the planning,” O’Donnell said at the meeting. “Some of the concerns I have are making sure Long Beach does not pay for an Orange County project.”

Separate from the currently underway West County Connectors Project that rebuilt the 7th St. bridge and has caused intermittent closures at the I-605/I-405/SR-22 interchange, CalTrans and OCTA are proposing to widen the San Diego Freeway (I-405) from Costa Mesa to the Orange County/Los Angeles County border.

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Photo courtesy of CalTrans

According to OCTA, this will improve travel conditions by increasing freeway capacity, improving traffic and interchange operations and enhancing road safety to meet state and federal standards.

But despite its potential benefits, the project is not without opposition from the unwillingly affected City of Long Beach, which was not mentioned once in the draft EIR released in May 2013. The City submitted a number of public comments and OCTA reconsidered, leading to the supplementary information about Long Beach traffic impacts released last month. 

The document identified 10 major intersections in Long Beach that will be the most impacted by construction, four of which are City intersections and the remainder of which are CalTrans right of ways. According to City Traffic Engineer David Roseman, the measures to mitigate those impacts on City intersections amount to $1.7 million, however OCTA is only offering up $250,000, leaving a shortfall of nearly 80%. 

“The initial project budget is over a billion dollars,” Roseman said during last week’s city council meeting. “I don’t understand why they can’t find money from the $1 billion to mitigate the impacts of their own project.”  

Long Beach citizens are encouraged to attend the Public Hearing on the Supplemental Draft EIR/EIS on Wednesday, July 24 from 6PM to 8PM at Hill Classical Middle School at 1100 Iroquois Ave.

Informational boards will be available for public viewing, and project representatives will be available to answer questions. The formal project presentation begins at 6:30PM.

Additional reporting by Noah Kelly.

I-405 Widening Project Supplemental Traffic Study on Long Beach

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