California awards WSP HOV engineering-design contract, part of a potential $2B project
- The Ventura County Transportation Commission has awarded WSP an engineering design and environmental consulting services contract worth up to $15.2 million as a precursor to a $750 million to $2 billion project that would see the addition of high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Highway 101 through the California cities of Thousand Oaks and Ventura, according to the Ventura County Star.
- The project will include the carpool lanes as well as auxiliary lanes and transition lanes between on ramps and off ramps, all of which is intended to ease existing and future congestion along the busy 101 corridor, which is the state's major north-south route along the coast. WSP beat out four other bidders for the 27-mile project.
- Commission officials acknowledged that WSP will look at alternatives for the project, one of which could be not moving forward. The commission has not yet secured funds to pay for the new lanes and forecasted that state and federal funding, even during the next 20 to 30 years, will not be enough. Ventura County voters rejected a 2016 half-cent sales tax measure that would have provided more than $3 billion during the next 30 years for transportation projects.
Los Angeles County voters were more eager to come out of pocket for their transportation projects in 2016 and passed Measure M, a half-cent sales tax that directs proceeds to light-rail construction and other initiatives. The taxis helping to fund light-rail projects like the Purple Line subway extension and the $1.5 billion Foothill Gold Line but will also pay for light-rail and bus operations, street improvements, affordable fare programs and bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
Carpool HOV lanes have become a part of major highway renovations in California and around the country as a way to speed traffic on some of the busiest highways. For example, the Orange County Transportation Authority will add carpool lanes to a 16-mile section of Interstate 405 as part of a nearly $2 billion widening project, which is partially funded by Orange County's Measure M. Crews will add one lane in each direction on the 405 and will convert existing carpool lanes into tolled express lanes, which will be free for drivers carrying three or more passengers.
Carpool lanes could also be included in the new infrastructure work around the Las Vegas Raiders Stadium, even though the Nevada Department of Transportation must still complete a two-year environmental review and secure the necessary land. The $900 million project would allow drivers to more efficiently navigate around the new $2 billion stadium, which is expected to open for its first NFL season in 2020. Funding will not likely come available for the infrastructure work until 2020 or 2021.
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