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Next L.A. | Looking Ahead: Commuting

New Link to Help Put the 'Rush' in 'Crush'


There is good news for commuters who use the Santa Ana Freeway in Orange County--a new 4 1/2-mile carpool transitway expected to decrease driving times by as much as 15 minutes between two of the nation's busiest freeway interchanges.

The new roadway is a key element of a $2.1-billion effort to hasten the flow of traffic along the busy Santa Ana Freeway, as the portion of Interstate 5 from downtown Los Angeles to El Toro is called.

The new transitway connects the "Orange Crush" interchange of three freeways--the Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Orange--in central Orange County with the intersection of the Santa Ana and Costa Mesa in Tustin.

Vehicles with two or more occupants and motorcycles may use the transitway. The fine for unauthorized users is $271.

"This is the cornerstone of the I-5 project," said Chuck Smith, a member of the board of directors of the Orange County Transportation Authority. "It's a very important piece of the overall transportation picture for Orange County."

As part of the project, the central Orange County portion of the Santa Ana was widened from six lanes to 12. Seven major overcrossings and underpasses were rebuilt, and the two interchanges were completely reconstructed.

The transitway will be able to take 23,000 vehicles a day off other lanes of the Santa Ana Freeway, speeding them between the interchanges, especially at rush hour.

"We're very excited," said John Nicoletti, a spokesman for the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, which stages events attracting crowds of 15,000 and is north of the Orange Crush just off the Orange Freeway. "Being able to get to the arena is extremely important to us. The opening of this transitway makes us extremely accessible."


Interchange for the Better

Orange County's main commuter artery, the Santa Ana Freeway, takes on a new look with the opening of a carpool- only transitway between the Costa Mesa Freeway interchange and the "Orange Crush" interchange with the Garden Grove and Orange Freeways. Included in the opening is a ramp that will allow carpool- lane access from the transitway to Santa Ana's Main Street.


Transit Tape

* Length: 4.5 miles

* Width: 50 feet

* Height: 60 feet at highest point

* Concrete: 189,000 cubic yards

* Steel: 13,600 tons

* Botts Dots: 84,000

* Daily Load: 23,000 vehicles

Source: Caltrans

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