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Orange County highway and rail improvement

Project type:



Preliminary engineering, estimating, program management, design, construction management, and agreement management services

Construction cost:

$4.2 billion

Orange County Highway and Rail Improvement

Helping save motorists from the “Orange Crush”

Orange County Transportation Authority / Orange County, California


California’s State Route 22 runs for 12 miles from Long Beach to Orange by way of Garden Grove. Also known as the Garden Grove Freeway, it is one of the main east-west routes in Orange County.

SR-22 provides connections to all of Orange County’s major north-south freeways, including I-605, I-405, SR-57, and SR-55. Just inside the city limits of Orange, it joins the Santa Ana and Orange Freeways in a notoriously complex and congested interchange known as the Orange Crush. Built in the early 1960s, SR-22 was the last freeway in Orange County without high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes.

The first design-build contract on an operating freeway in California, the project to renovate SR-22 was launched in 2004 by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). The centerpiece of a larger project to improve highway and transit facilities in the county, it was the largest highway widening contract in the state.


From 2004 to 2008, Mott MacDonald provided fully integrated program management, planning, preliminary engineering, project management, cost and scope control, estimating, and construction management services for SR-22 improvements. This same assignment has continued with multiple renewed contracting assignments, which have included other highway and rail expansion programs.

As part of its project management services, we provided a full-time project staff along with a one-stop shop for on-call services during design and construction, including providing program and project managers, value engineering, quality control reviews, constructability reviews, and construction claims analysis.

Mott MacDonald has managed more than 20 highway improvement projects for OCTA. Projects have included the following:

  • Improvements to State Route 22, Route 605, Route 405, I-5, and BNSF Railway grade separations along the Orangethorpe Corridor
  • Metrolink Grade Separation in the City of Irvine
  • Various new soundwalls and landscaping sites

As an extension of the owner, we have overseen and offered coordination with Orange County, Caltrans, the Federal Highway Administration, cities, and local agencies, while developing new procedures for OCTA.


The SR-22 improvement project was completed in November 2006, following an aggressive 800-day schedule. Spanning the cities of Westminster, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Orange, the project increased traffic flow and speed, eliminated bottlenecks, made ramps easier to navigate, widened bridges, and reduced traffic noise. HOV connectors improved long-distance travel for carpools and buses, while avoiding chokepoints at major interchanges by enabling vehicles to flow easily between freeways.

Other road and rail improvements continued for several years afterward, making Orange County’s transportation corridors better able to handle the continuing increase in population and traffic demand.

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