High public interest has prompted the Orange County Transportation Authority to extend by two weeks the time limit for members of the public to voice their opinions on an I-405 widening project that could take away carpool lanes and replace them with a toll road.

There are three widening plans under consideration, but the one that has drawn crowds of more than 100 to OCTA hearings and community meetings is the third option, which includes replacing car pool lanes with toll roads.

The original deadline for public comment was July 2, but OCTA is extending it to July 17.

Money for the projects would come primarily from the county’s Measure 2 half-cent sales tax. Plans cost from $1.3 billion for the smallest amount of widening to $1.7 billion for option No. 3, which includes the toll lanes. Cars containing three or more people would be exempt from the tolls.

The third option would be financed with $1.3 billion from Measure 2 and the rest from tolls. The second option, which includes additional lanes but no tolls, would cost an estimated $1.4 billion, but $100 million of that would come from a so-far unspecified source.

While OCTA will make its recommendation on the best option in late summer, CalTrans officials will make the final decision.

Construction could begin in 2015 and will extend about 14 miles from the point where State Route 73 toll road connects to the 405 in Costa Mesa, to the junction of I-405 with I-605 in Seal Beach.

Although there will be no more official OCTA public hearings for public comment before the July 17 deadline , OCTA representatives will attend a June 26 community meeting in Seal Beach, said spokesman Joel Zlotnik.

OCTA said public comments may be sent by mail to Smita Deshpande, Caltrans District 12, 2201 Dupont Drive, Suite 200, Irvine 92612 or by e-mail to 405.dedcomments@parsons.com

Click here for the project’s draft environmental impact report.


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