Despite challenges, I-405 progress continues


Relocating utilities has been a major challenge during the 405 widening project.

On Thursday, Metro staff gave a progress report to the Metro Board’s Construction Committee on the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project.  Project staff reported that the mega project has overcome some mega challenges over the last three years as it works to improve the I-405 freeway and add a northbound carpool lane between West L.A. and the San Fernando Valley.

Project managers say the project is now two-thirds complete and that they will continue to open the project in phases to ensure the traveling public has safe access to significant improvements as soon as they’re ready for use.

With three years of major construction now completed, the project team has achieved a substantial amount of work to date, including new Wilshire on and off-ramps, a new and wider Sunset Bridge, I-10 interchange improvements, Sepulveda Boulevard improvements and a new on-ramp at Skirball.

By the end of the year, the project anticipates completing all bridges and utility work will be nearly complete with project ramps, underpasses, soundwalls and retaining walls.

There have been issues that have slowed the pace of construction, added costs and extended the ultimate completion for parts of the project. Metro estimates that the cost of the freeway improvements project will be higher primarily due to previously unknown but required utility relocation work.

Rebuilding the Wilshire on- and off-ramps is a big part of the 405 project. Photo by Metro.

Rebuilding the Wilshire on- and off-ramps is a big part of the 405 project. Photo by Metro.

Project partners are confident they can open the bookends of the project as soon as they’re completed, but the project’s middle section between Montana Avenue and Sunset Boulevard has proven to be the project’s greatest challenge.

The project team has shifted Sepulveda Boulevard to the east in this area to make room for the widened freeway. Major utilities required relocation — with extreme street congestion limiting the duration and sequence of needed work. Other mitigations have been needed for sound walls and retaining walls in the area. Nearby homeowners have suffered the brunt of major construction impacts. Consequently, this part of the project is now anticipated to be completed in mid-2014.

Here’s a summary of the project’s status presented at the committee meeting:

  • The project team has much greater visibility to actions needed to complete the project.
  • Sepulveda Boulevard has been used as a major utility corridor between West L.A. and the San Fernando Valley for 60 years. The project has had to identify, relocate or have the utility owner relocate numerous major utilities, some of which were not adequately included in utility documents at the start of construction. Work had to be conducted in such a way as to not bring street traffic on Sepulveda to a complete standstill.
  • Local drainage, change work and contractor retaining wall issues also impacted the project. A 12’ x 12’ county culvert box not shown on preliminary engineering plans has required extensive mitigation efforts.
  • Needed right-of-ways with several property owners along the 405, including the federal General Services Administration (which oversees the VA Hospital) and Getty have taken considerably longer than anticipated to acquire.

Even with delays, the project is being constructed using the Design-Build delivery method, which accelerates construction by seven years compared with the traditional delivery method in which design must be completely finished before construction starts. Metro will be able to deliver a much improved I-405 to the public years sooner, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs and travel delays.

11 replies

  1. The 405 widening is a fully Federal funded project that otherwise would not have been done. The money was there, so Metro took it. The 405 HOV lane was a long wanted project, but absolutely no money to do it, that is until Federal money for HOV projects became available. The money could not have been used for other than HOV projects. The 405 was among the last sections of freeway without HOV and with this project now comes closer to the goal of all freeway in LA county having HOV.
    Further, MTA is responsible for ALL transportation or all FORMS of transportation in LA County, including roads. This is proper, correct and means that with one agency responsible for all forms of transportation, there is better thought given to transit connections and impacts.