Orange County Hits the Fast Lane, 405 Freeway Express Opens Up, Promising Speedier SoCal Commutes

Orange County Hits the Fast Lane, 405 Freeway Express Opens Up, Promising Speedier SoCal CommutesSource: Google Street View
Gabriela Martinez
Published on December 01, 2023

It's a red-letter day for Orange County motorists, as ribbon-cutting ceremonies have made way for a brand new, smoother ride on the 405 Freeway. The Orange County Transportation Authority swung open the gates to long-awaited express lanes between Costa Mesa and the San Gabriel River Freeway, ushering in what many hope to be the end of clogged commutes, according to CBS News.

The colossal $2.16 billion venture that's set to majorly rewrite travel times kicked off back in 2018. Now, with one additional lane erected in each direction and express lanes that promise to quickly shuttle vehicles from state Route 73 to the 605 Freeway, Orange County streets are on the fast track to efficiency. The project didn't just stop there—it also introduced sweeping upgrades to streets and vital on- and off-ramps through the impacted cities, all within its impressive scope.

The 405 boasted a staggering tally of approximately 370,000 daily drivers, making it a heavyweight in the national transportation arena. As per a report by ABC7, officials are betting high on these new players—the express lanes—to cut down travel time like never before. A switch to electronic tolling seeks to keep this momentum brisk, bidding adieu to toll booths and cash transactions in favor of seamless FasTrak transponders.

The express lanes bring a fresh, toll-based framework where the cost swings depending on how thick the traffic is and the time of day. Folks with an existing FasTrak account will find the transition smoother than a Sunday drive—no additional prep is needed. And here's a sweet spot for carpoolers: duos get to ride toll-free during off-peak hours under a special three-year arrangement, though peak hours will still see them digging into their pockets to chip in for the toll.

The enhancements also hold out new sidewalks and bike lanes, birthed from the reconstruction of 18 bridges—marking strides for not just vehicular but also pedestrian and cyclist mobility.