One mile of new traffic lane added to the 405 project


New traffic lane on I-405. Photo credit: Ned Racine

Metro, Caltrans and Kiewit have opened another one-mile section of new freeway lane on the I-405 between Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard, making good on a promise to continue opening parts of the freeway improvements project as soon as they’re ready for public use.

Just before the Memorial Day weekend, the project opened a 1.7-mile section of additional lane between the I-10 and Santa Monica Boulevard to help ease traffic flows for drivers navigating through the I-10/I-405 interchange. See this earlier Source post for details.

This latest lane opening now officially extends nearly three (3) miles – one-third of the overall 10-mile freeway widening project. The No. 1 lane closest to the freeway median will continue to operate as a general purpose lane until the contractor can later convert it to an HOV lane.

Reaching the three-mile marker is significant because it adds key lane capacity all the way to Wilshire Boulevard, ostensibly the busiest corridor that connects to the I-405 in West Los Angeles. Santa Monica Boulevard is the second busiest in traffic volumes.

During construction of the additional traffic lane, drivers entering the freeway ramp at Santa Monica were bottlenecked into one lane that also merged with traffic trying to get onto the freeway from Wilshire Boulevard, creating extended delays. As part of the lane addition, this bottleneck was rectified. The existing barrier at the Santa Monica on-ramp and Wilshire off-ramp was removed, providing additional merge time for both the Santa Monica on-ramp and Wilshire off-ramp traffic.

The project continues to make steady progress, and is now two-thirds complete. Earlier this year, the 405 project team conceded that parts of construction would take longer to complete and cost more due to unknown utility relocation work, Sepulveda widening, delays in acquiring needed rights-of-way and other challenges. That said, major portions of the project are expected to be completed this year, including all reconstructed bridge (including the “Carmageddon” bridge on Mulholland Drive), utilities and the Wilshire ramps. Final completion of the project is now anticipated in mid-2014.