Inside Seven
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Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (R) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa flank Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as they deliver a message about the project's importance to California.

Governor Schwarzenegger Announces the Start of the Northbound I-405 HOV Lane in West Los Angeles
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 06/2009

Largest Recovery Funds project in the nation is launched on a District 7 freeway.

With the late afternoon traffic in the background making its own case for the project’s need, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger officially launched the northbound San Diego Freeway (I-405) High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV, or carpool) lane at a freeway-adjacent groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, May 8.

The governor, surrounded by numerous elected and State officials including Congressmember Howard Berman, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Secretary Dale Bonner and Caltrans Director Will Kempton, told guests and media that the $1 billion project was the largest in the nation using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) funds known as of that date.

“We are working around the clock to effectively pump Recovery Act money into the California economy to create jobs, move our economy forward and, in this instance, decrease traffic on the 405,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. The project, which extends from the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101), received $189.9 million in Recovery Act funds. It will create 18,000 jobs.

Construction of the 10-mile lane is expected to take roughly four years. It will complete the HOV system on I-405 in Los Angeles County, making it possible for motorists to ride in a carpool lane in both directions all the way from the San Fernando Valley to Orange County.

Representative Berman, who played a large role in securing funding for the HOV lane’s initial design, said the project would significantly improve commute times. “It’s going to mean less time stuck in a car, which translates to better fuel economy and improved quality of life for motorists.” The project is expected to save more than seven million vehicle hours of delay each year.

“We’ve got to do something about this gridlock,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We’ve got to invest in getting more people into each car…This is what this project will do.”

This HOV lane is the first design/build highway project in District 7. Design/Build is a method of construction and project development that allows one entity to provide both design and construction through a single contract between the Department and the contractor. It evolved from the opinion that many construction projects could be more cost-effective if they were implemented faster.

“Design/Build is not a tool that can be used all the time, but when used for the right project, like the I-405 HOV Lane project, it enables a tight turn-around for project delivery,” said District 7 Director Doug Failing. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) awarded the design/build contract to Kiewit Pacific Company on April 24, 2009.

Caltrans and Metro are working as partners on the project, with Metro as the lead agency for project implementation while Caltrans maintains responsibility for design approvals and construction oversight.

“With today’s start of the long-overdue carpool lane on the 405, we’re helping goods and people keep moving in Southern California,” said Assembly Speaker Bass. “That is definitely a win-win.”

Mayor Villaraigosa (foreground), Governor Schwarzenegger (center) and Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl(back) speak with reporters before the ceremony. U.S. Congressmember Howard Berman (D-28)attended the ceremony to demonstrate his support. The congressmember was instrumental in securing funding for the initial design. To his right is Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Secretary Dale Bonner. (L to R) Caltrans Director Will Kempton; District 7 Diretor Doug Failing; Los Angeles City Councilmember Wendy Greuel; and Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Secretary Dale Bonner. (L to R)I-405 Design/Build project team members Resident Engineer George Malacalza;Environmental Planner Liz Suh;Environmental Planning Deputy Ron Kosinski; and Senior Environmental Planner Carlos Montez.