- The $1.9 billion widening of a 16-mile portion of Interstate 405 through Orange County, CA, is set to begin in the next several weeks, according to The Orange County Register.
- The five-year project will see the addition of one lane in each direction and existing carpool lanes turned into tolled express lanes, although the new lanes will be free for drivers carrying three or more passengers. Starting this summer, crews will begin demolition and reconstruction of 18 bridges that must be raised to make way for the new lanes.
- Orange County's Measure M half-cent sales tax will pay for $1.1 billion toward project costs, with the federal government ($45.6 million), state ($89.7 million) and a toll-backed loan ($629 million) funding the balance. To minimize driver frustration and keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible during construction, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) will provide information to mobile app Waze about closures and official detours, and is also developing its own app and website to pass along information to the public.
Back in November 2016, OCTA awarded a $1.2 billion design-build contract for the project to low bidder OC 405 Partners, a joint venture led by OHL USA and Astaldi Construction. The contract was the first to be issued under a state law that allows California transportation agencies to use design-build delivery on road projects.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, using a design-build approach on highway projects can speed up the schedule, reduce costs and improve quality. Designers work with the construction team before the project begins to iron out any conflicts, which reduces the number of costly changes down the road. Design-build also allows the construction phase to begin while the design of additional phases is still underway.
A design-build approach is often part of a public-private partnership (P3), a delivery method that typically shifts project risk, including that of financing and maintenance of the asset, to the private sector. Earlier this month, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced that it had received interest from 27 private firms in taking part in its $7.6 billion Interstate 270-Interstate 495 Capital Beltway expansion project. MDOT plans to add four toll lanes to both highways in an effort to ease traffic congestion. The winning team will finance, design, build and maintain the new lanes and be compensated with toll revenue. The toll-lane expansion would be the largest P3 in North America to date.