Did you see our recent post on the "10 Worst Orange County Roadways?" I didn't bother including the northbound 405 freeway in Costa Mesa and Fountain Valley in that wreck/near-wreck report because, as much as I really, really, really hate that stretch of road, I can never get going fast enough in all the traffic to actually collide with anything. More like fender kissers than fender benders. But the massive headache that is the northbound 405 in CM/FV has been recognized by Caltrans as the state's second-worst bottleneck.
Taking the top spot on the transportation department's annual "mobility performance report" is Interstate 5 between the 710 and 605 freeways. Numbers 3 through 5 are also in Los Angeles County, as you'll learn in this Los Angeles Times story.
The 13-mile stretch of the 405 south of the 605 is one of the busiest highways in the region, with 377,000 trips a day on average. It currently has 10 lanes, but Caltrans and the Orange County Transportation Authority are planning a $1.7-billion widening project that would add a regular lane and a second carpool lane in each direction.
Efforts to add toll lanes there have been fought back locally by the public and elected officials, although Caltrans has said it can add them without such support. The compromise seems to be that motorists traveling alone can pay fees to use the carpool lanes.
Widening could begin as early as 2017 and be completed in 2021. The Times cites transportation officials predicting that without the improvements, rush-hour travel time between Costa Mesa and the 605 in Long Beach would double to at least two hours by 2040.
By which time we should have our solar-powered jetbacks, right?
The 405 project is among all the planned Orange County transportation initiatives that failed to draw iron in The Innovative Transportation Index recently published by the nonprofit California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG). The report exposes the U.S. cities using new technologies and tools to help people reduce their need to own cars. These include mass transit, carsharing, ridesharing and bikesharing programs and the computer/smartphone apps that can make using them easier.
Los Angeles tied for fourth in the CALPIRG rankings, which have Austin, Texas, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., taking the top three slots. San Diego is tied for eighth.
Orange County is not even mentioned.
Ah, well, at least when it comes to cross-state or -country trips, we can take Megabus. Or at least we should, despite the recent drop (and slight creep back up) in gasoline prices. The New Jersey-based budget bus company–some rides cost as little as a buck!–recently commissioned a study that found it is still cheaper to use city-to-city bus services than it is to pay for the gas burned between the two destinations.
Of course, once you get where you are going, you will have to pay for taxis or public transportation if you are going anywhere beyond walking distance from your place of lodging. Then again, with a vehicle there is day and overnight parking.
And the smell coming from the city-to-city bus passenger sitting next to you vs. the odor coming from the back of your Wally Wagon? Well, let's just call that a wash.