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TRANSPORTATION NEWS
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OCTA jobs boost SoCal economy

More than $525 million in projects were launched, creating nearly 9,500 positions this year.

BY KRISTEN SCHOTTPublished: December 27, 2010

Construction began on more than $525 million worth of transit projects in 2010, and nearly 9,500 jobs were created as a result, providing a much-needed boost to the Southern California economy.

The Orange County Transportation Authority launched construction projects throughout the county, including infrastructure improvements for increased rail service, grade separation developments, lane additions and parking renovations.

OCTA says it was able to quickly move these projects into construction because of their shovel-ready status – a designation that means environmental and design work was complete – which made them eligible for matching dollars through state and federal funding, as well as the county's half-cent sales tax for transportation.

"Our goal is to get projects out on the street as quickly as possible to improve our transportation network and provide much-needed employment opportunities for the transportation and construction sectors,” said Will Kempton, CEO of OCTA and a 2010 OC METRO Hot 25 honoree.

Additionally, OCTA officials said the agency experienced a 40 percent savings in construction costs by starting the projects during the down economy.

"While the economic situation has been a challenge, the one positive byproduct is lower construction bids on projects," said Kempton. "The savings we received allowed us to put even more projects out to bid, which created additional work for the private sector overall."

Moving forward, the agency plans to continue its efforts to boost the economy through a number of upcoming developments. The projects are part of the Measure M2 program, a 30-year, $14 billion plan designed to improve Orange County's transportation system. The developments include seven grade separations totaling $590 million; $1.4 billion in improvements to the 91 freeway; and $600 million for enhanced connections to Metrolink.

“These infrastructure projects provide the boost Orange County needs to get the economy on the right track,” said Lucy Dunn, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council and a member of the California Transportation Commission. “Orange County is ready to work, and OCTA continues to be a major player in developing the jobs that will stimulate our local economy.”

Here's a look at this year's projects:

• $165.5 million to add carpool connectors between three freeways – the 22, 405 and 605
• $95 million in infrastructure improvements for increased rail service
• $85 million to enhance safety at 50 railroad crossings
• $68.3 million to add a 5-mile northbound lane on the 57
• $40 million to add an eastbound lane on the 91 from the 241 to the 71
• $34.2 million for grade separation projects
• $28.7 million for various parking improvements
• $4.6 million to construct new sound walls
• $3.9 million for improvements at bus bases

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