The Orange County Transportation Authority is celebrating 30 years of improving the region’s transit, streets, and freeways.
In June 1991, OCTA was formed through the consolidation of seven different agencies that focused on various aspects of transportation across the county. The move to streamline efforts into a single agency allowed for coordination of transportation planning for the county’s growing population, greatly increasing efficiency and saving millions of dollars in taxpayer money by eliminating duplication of efforts.
“When you look back at the 30 years OCTA has been in existence, we can take pride in so many accomplishments to improve Orange County’s freeways and streets, provide reliable transit, protect the environment, and so much more,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the county’s First District Supervisor. “With the strong support of the public, who overwhelmingly voted to approve Measure M to fund many of those improvements, we will continue to have a bright future with a balanced and sustainable transportation network.”
OCTA’s successes would not be possible without the vision and support of local voters, who passed the Measure M half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in 1990 and then renewed it with 70% of the vote in 2006.
Since then, funds from Measure M, also known as OC Go, have led to a wide range of transportation improvements, with funding help from OCTA’s state and federal partners. Those improvements included:
- Major expansions of Orange County freeways, improving traffic flow on Interstate 5, widened from six to 10 lanes, and improvements to State Routes 55, 22 and 91, among others.
- Metrolink commuter rail was added to Orange County. Prior to 1991, Amtrak was the only passenger rail service, operating one train daily between Los Angeles and San Juan Capistrano. Now OCTA works with Metrolink to fund 54 weekday and 16 weekend trains serving the county.
- Bus transit was expanded and tailored to fit the county’s needs, including nearly 60 routes and 5,400 stops, as well as paratransit. OCTA also piloted microtransit with the OC Flex service and works with cities to provide shuttle services.
- In 2003, OCTA purchased and began operating the 91 Express Lanes, 10 miles of tolled express lanes between Anaheim and Riverside County that give commuters a reliable time-saving transportation option and have led to improvements throughout the 91 freeway corridor.
- More than $1 billion in OC Go funds have gone back to cities and the county for street improvements and local transportation needs.
- More than 3,000 traffic signals have been synchronized, leading to more green lights and more efficient travel.
While taking time to mark the accomplishments of the past 30 years, OCTA, is also working towards future projects, including a 16-mile, $2 billion improvement to the I-405 between Costa Mesa and the county’s border with Long Beach, which is scheduled to be completed in 2023, and the OC Streetcar, the county’s first modern, electric streetcar along a 4.1-mile route in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, which is also set to open in 2023.
Originally posted on Metro Magazine