Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the opening of new carpool/high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on Interstate 405 (San Diego Freeway) Tuesday, May 23rd.

The new 4.8-mile HOV lanes, from State Route 90 (Marina Freeway) to the 105 south of Los Angeles International Airport, is designed to reduce travel time for users of the lane by an estimated 50 percent, which transportation officials believe should save commuters five minutes of travel time compared to those traveling in the regular mixed-flow lanes.

“Smart carpool commuters will be able to take advantage of this carpool lane and get to their destinations quicker and more efficiently,” Villaraigosa said. “This project is one of many investments in our long-term plan to continue improving mobility across the City of Los Angeles.”

The total cost of the HOV lane project was $40.2 million and it was authorized by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board of directors. Funding was from the MTA, Caltrans (the California State Department of Transporation) and Los Angeles County.

The MTA board approved $4.2 million in additional funding to cover cost increases during the construction to finance the completion of the project.

“I will continue to support car pool lane projects that help relieve traffic congestion, and most importantly, promote ridesharing,” Villaraigosa said. “This project could never have happened without the great partnership between the MTA and Caltrans [California Department of Transportation].”

The 405 freeway is considered to be a major regional transportation corridor.

Villaraigosa said the freeway serves as the backbone of the City of Los Angeles’ transportation network, which includes LAX and Westside streets.

Additionally, several of the 405 freeway ramps will be modified to provide more vehicle capacity and each ramp will be metered to ensure a regulated flow of traffic.

City officials believe these actions will help alleviate lengthy queues of vehicles on local streets along the 405 corridor and help reduce local traffic congestion.

For every dollar spent on the project, Los Angeles County — which runs the HOV system — estimates $16 in benefits in terms of less congestion and travel time, energy savings, fuel consumption, reduced accident costs, and reduced air pollution over a 20-year period.