Orange County Branch Newsletter
Transportation Technical Group
OCTA Measure M2 Presentation
By: Adrian Anderson, ASCE OC TTG
Darrell Johnson, OCTA Chief Executive Officer, presented a fantastic overview of progress and a status update on OCTA’s Measure M2 to a packed room at the UCI University Club on September 15, 2015. The 30-year Measure M2 program is funded by a special use sales tax and was passed by 70% of voters, an indication that implementation of the initial Measure M by OCTA, which was passed in 1989, resonated with voters in a positive way.
Measure M includes specific allocations by category, including 43% of net revenues to freeways, 32% to streets, and 25% to transit. Also, 5% of M2 freeway funds are allocated to the Freeway Environmental Mitigation Program, and 2% of the overall M2 program funds are allocated to the Environmental Cleanup Program. There has been much progress already on the freeway program due to early action planning, including the M2020 Plan which has seen planning underway for the entire freeway program with 6 of the 27 projects already complete and open to traffic. Another 6 freeway segments are under construction and 7 more will be in construction or completed by 2020. More than $185M has been provided to local jurisdictions in flexible funding to help maintain and restore aging street systems and over 1,400 traffic signals have been synched to date saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars per year, and not including the cost of time savings. There is $634M allocated to grade separate rails and streets with 3 projects completed and work on the remaining 5 underway. For transit, 52 rail-highway grade crossings have been enhanced for safety, 10 intracounty Metrolink trains have been added along with station improvements, $31M has been provided for services to support seniors and persons with disabilities, ARTIC was opened in December 2014, 50 of the top 100 busiest bus stops have improvements underway, and Orange County’s first streetcar project is moving into the design phase with construction to begin in 2017 and operations scheduled to begin in late 2019 due to an accelerated schedule.
The environmental programs established by Measure M2 have been praised by local conservancy groups and hailed as a model for others to follow. The Freeway Environmental Mitigation Program has purchased 1,300 acres of open space and established 11 habitat restoration projects (it should be noted that this is a comprehensive mitigation program for all M2 freeway projects to expedite/streamline the permit process). The Environmental Cleanup Program (Project X) includes funding for local and regional water quality improvement projects, includes 126 projects, and over $38M has already been awarded. This cleanup program has resulted in 213 million gallons of water saved (very important in times of drought, which is in the forefront of people’s minds moreso than traffic congestion) and nearly 500,000 cubic feet of trash removed.
Mr. Johnson also highlighted the I-405 Improvement Project which is currently used by over 300,000 motorists every day between Orange County and LA County. In partnership with Caltrans, the I-405 project would add one general purpose lane in each direction from Euclid Street to I-605 and one express lane in each direction from SR-73 to SR-22. A powerful graphic was shown that indicated the I-405 corridor travel time of roughly an hour (traveling in either the general purpose lanes or the HOV lane) with the addition of just one general purpose lane in each direction (original I-405 project) versus including one express lane in each direction along with the general purpose lanes which would cut that time in half for the general purpose lanes and would require just 13 minutes within the express lanes. It is anticipated that the project report and environmental documents will be completed this year, a toll policy will be adopted next year along with traffic and revenue studies, and that the project would be completed with a design-build contract to be awarded in 2016 with construction completed by 2022.
The OC Streetcar project was also highlighted and features 4.15 miles along the Pacific Electric right-of-way, Santa Ana Blvd, and 4th Street. There will be 10 stops between the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center (SARTC) and local activity centers with the line ending in Garden Grove at Harbor Blvd. Next steps include awarding the design in December 2015 with construction to begin in late 2017 for testing and operations to begin in 2020.
As part of the M2 program safeguards, OCTA is currently conducting a comprehensive 10-Year Review of all projects and programs to evaluate the performance of M2. Extensive analysis and public outreach is being conducted and will be summarized in a report of findings and recommendations that are scheduled to be reviewed by the Board of Directors in November 2015 and initiated as required thereafter. If anyone has thoughts on Measure M2, they are invited to share their thoughts at: www.octa.net/Measure-M.