OCTA: What’s the Best Way to Widen the I-405?

8_14_09_405.jpgPhoto of the I-405 as it pases the John Wayne Airport: Treotography/Flickr
A brief article in today's Orange County Register reports that the OCTA, the agency that recently employed Metro CEO Art Leahy as its top boss, is seeking public input on the best way to relieve congestion on the I-405.  While this seems like an inexpensive way to get a snapshot of public opinion; I can't help but notice that the only options the OCTA is proposing involve massive road widening projects.

The four alternatives are basically a one-lane widening in each direction, a two lane widening in each direction, a two-lane widening that would be one HOT Lane and one general purpose lane, and just widening parts of the 405 in Orange County as funding allows.  No mention of trains, buses, bus-only lanes, or anything of the sort appear anywhere inside the Register's article or on the OCTA's project page.

To make matters even worse, the OCTA has already stated its preference for the two traditional widening alternatives. It should be noted that the I-405 in Orange County is already five travel lanes in each direction, so it is more than feasible that the final design for this project could be creating a mammoth 14-lane highway designed to connect Orange and San Diego counties. 

I can't think of a better sprawl acceleration project than that.  For a quick reminder of what a fourteen lane highway looks like, visit this article on the proposed I-710 widening in Long Beach.  Is that really what we want our roads to look like?

In case you're wondering, there is no place on the survey to ask how the project conforms with state mandates limiting sprawl or to improve air quality.  For a complete list of public outreach opportunities on this project, please visit the I-405 Improvement page at OCTA.net.