And here’s the news release from Metro:
In time for the upcoming Memorial Day travel weekend, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) have officially opened an additional general purpose lane on the northbound I-405 between the I-10 and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles.
The new 1.7-mile lane, which opened early Friday morning, May 24, is expected to provide congestion relief benefits for motorists navigating the northbound I-405 at the I-10 interchange, one of the most congested freeway interchanges in the nation.
“This is a major milestone for transportation in Los Angeles, especially for our Westside residents and commuters,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Mayor and Metro Board Member. “As one of our most congested interstate freeways, the opening of this nearly two-mile lane on the I-405 is both welcome and necessary. In 2008, with the passage of Measure R, we demonstrated a shared vision to build Los Angeles a world-class transportation system. This is only one step toward the completion of significant improvements to Los Angeles’ interstate freeways and public transportation networks.”
The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements contractor has completed major structure and widening work to allow the opening of an additional lane of traffic, including paving and lane striping that required a series of recent sequential night-time freeway closures at Santa Monica Boulevard.
The project team anticipates releasing another 1.4 miles of general purpose lane to reach north of Wilshire Boulevard in a second opening phase next month, June 2013.
The No. 1 lane closest to the freeway median will later be converted into the future High Occupancy Vehicle Lane.
This effort is designed to return portions of the project to full functionality as soon as possible to help reduce construction-related impacts to both motorists and West L.A. residents. Metro has committed to opening parts of the project as soon as they’re ready for public use.
“The immediate availability of this extra lane will add badly needed freeway capacity on one of our most congested interstate bottlenecks,” said Art Leahy, Metro CEO.
Opening of the new traffic lane will add capacity for 1,500 to 2,000 vehicles per hour on this congested portion of the I-405. Time savings will vary depending on time of day and real-time traffic conditions.
The contractor is now working aggressively on a phased delivery for remaining portions of future HOV lane segments.
The new lane configuration was developed in cooperation with Metro, the contractor and Caltrans to open early and safely.
“This portion of freeway lane is a small taste of the amazing benefits that will be fully realized when the entire I-405 carpool lane project is completed,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles. “Caltrans is eager to add it to the 514 miles of carpool lanes in Los Angeles County currently.”
To date, the project has delivered key project milestones, including several new Wilshire on and off-ramps, widened Sunset Bridge, I-10 interchange improvements, Sepulveda Boulevard improvements from Montana Avenue to Sunset Boulevard, and new, greater capacity southbound I-405 Skirball on-ramp, among others.
In 2013 the project expects to complete utility work, Mulholland and Skirball bridges, remaining Wilshire Interchange Ramps, and conclude construction on most on- and off-ramps, retaining and soundwalls, underpasses and structures.
Completion of a mid-section of the project, however, has been extended due to increased scope of work, and is now forecast to be complete in mid-2014.
The 10-mile HOV lane construction project is a joint effort between Metro and Caltrans, and is being constructed by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.
When done, the project will complete the last remaining gap of the entire I-405 HOV lane network, creating the longest continuous HOV lane in the nation.