The SR 55 Improvement Project, Orange County’s newest freeway expansion undertaking, broke ground on Thursday, July 28. During a ceremony, local leaders shared their enthusiasm for the project which aims to decongest the county’s troublesome traffic areas, namely the 55 Freeway, and its joining freeways Interstate 405 and Interstate 5. 

The SR55 Improvement Project, a $475 million project being headed by the Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans, is a move that anticipates the number of drivers to increase over the next 20 years. 

Currently, OCTA reports that 260,000 drivers utilize the SR-55 daily. The agency expects that to increase to 275,000 drivers per day by 2040.

In terms of expansion, the project will add one lane and one carpool lane in each direction of the 55 Freeway. In the process, the project will make bridge improvements, add sound and retaining walls, and make adjustments to the area’s on-ramps and off-ramps.    

The feeder streets and all utility systems surrounding the project will also be reconfigured and modified.  

As construction on the four-mile project begins, the areas of Irvine, Tustin and Santa Ana will feel the impact the most. SR-55 is expected to be completed in 2026. 

Although the project’s starting point is unclear at this time, an OCTA spokesperson explained that drivers would begin to see construction staging in areas where crews will begin working.

Freeway lanes are expected to stay open during the day, but the project will require nighttime lane closures. Closures are also to be expected on MacArthur Boulevard, Dyer Road and Edinger Avenue under the freeway.

In a statement, Darrell E. Johnson, OCTA CEO, said this project is just one that will help build a more balanced transportation infrastructure in Orange County.  

“The SR-55 project is one component in OCTA’s overall goal of creating a balanced and sustainable transportation future for Orange County,” Johnson said. “I appreciate the community’s patience during construction as we work toward providing relief for the hundreds of thousands of drivers who travel through this area each day.”

Funding for this project is coming from a variety of sources, including Measure M, also known as OC G0, which voters approved in 2006. With the approval, voters agreed to a 30-year extension on a half-cent sales tax to be used for transportation improvements.

As of 2021, OC Go is expected to generate approximately $13.2 billion by 2041.

OCTA is encouraging residents and drivers that utilize the area to sign up for updates and surveys in relation to the freeway expansion project.

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