A voter-approved plan to expand the San Diego (405) Freeway between John Wayne Airport and the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway by adding one lane in both directions is being challenged by Caltrans officials who have suggested creating toll lanes in the same stretch of highway.
Caltrans' announcement of wanting to piggyback off the proposed project and build a second additional lane along that 14-mile stretch with high occupancy toll lanes has some city leaders outraged.
"There’s no ultimate plan, they haven't given us a vision for the future and how they plan to use our tax dollars," said Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa. "There's no accountability,"
The $1.3 billion plan to expand the roadway is part of Measure M2, which was passed in 2006, as part of a 30-year extension of the original Measure M.
In the original measure, more than $4 billion of improvements were made, adding 192 freeway lane miles, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority.
Measure M2's program is designed to deliver approximately $15.5 billion worth of transportation improvements as part of the I-405 Improvement Project through the same voter-approved half-cent sales tax increase that Measure M used.
Transportation improvements are necessary in Orange County where the population is expected to grow by 24 percent from 2.9 million in 2000 to 3.6 million in 2030, increasing travel on roads and highways by 39 percent, according to the OCTA.
Currently, 6,000 cars travel the 405 Freeway every hour during rush hour. Caltrans officials argue that adding an extra lane would allow an additional 3,500 more cars an hour to get through.
"If we have additional lane ...benefits everybody in the corridor," said Caltrans spokesman David Richardson.
It’s unclear from where the money would come to build the toll lanes but Caltrans officials said it would not be using money generated from the sales tax increase designated for Measure M2.