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State Route 55

Click here for a key to the symbols used. An explanation of acronyms may be found at the bottom of the page.


Routing Routing

Rte 55(a) Route 55 is from the south end of Newport Beach Channel Bridge to Route 91 in Santa Ana Canyon.

(b) The relinquished former portions of Route 55 within the City of Newport Beach are not state highways and are not eligible for adoption under Section 81. For the relinquished former portions of Route 55, the City of Newport Beach shall maintain within its jurisdiction signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 55. The City of Newport Beach shall ensure the continuity of traffic flow on the relinquished former portions of Route 1 within its jurisdiction, including, but not limited to, any traffic signal progression.

Post 1964 Signage History Post 1964 Signage History

In 1963, this route was defined as "From Newport Beach to Route 91 in Santa Ana Canyon"

On March 17, 1954, the California Highway Commission adopted Route 55 as a Freeway. Route 55 begins at the Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, near the city of Newport Beach and runs north to Route 91. This section of Route 55 was brought into the Freeway & Expressway System in 1959 and it is part of the National Highway System (NHS). On October 31, 1962, a Freeway Agreement with the county of Orange was executed for this segment of Route 55. A 1965 planning map shows it as freeway from Newport Beach to Route 91, with the portion S of Route 22 shown as "no adopted route".

In 2009, AB 344 (Chapter 238, 10/11/2009) authorized relinquishment of the portion in Newport Beach by adding the following to the legislative definition:

(b) The commission may relinquish to the City of Newport Beach the portion of Route 55 that is located between Finley Avenue and the Newport channel bridge, within the city limits of the City of Newport Beach, upon terms and conditions the commission finds to be in the best interests of the state.

(c) A relinquishment under this section shall become effective immediately following the county recorder's recordation of the relinquishment resolution containing the commission's approval of the terms and conditions of the relinquishment.

(d) On and after the effective date of the relinquishment, both of the following shall occur: (1) The portion of Route 55 relinquished under this section shall cease to be a state highway. (2) The portion of Route 55 relinquished under this section shall be ineligible for future adoption under Section 81.

(e) The City of Newport Beach shall ensure the continuity of traffic flow on the relinquished portions of Route 55, including, but not limited to, any traffic signal progression.

(f) For those portions of Route 55 that are relinquished, the City of Newport Beach shall maintain within its jurisdiction signs directing motorists to the continuation of Route 55.

In May 2013, the CTC relinquished right of way in the city of Newport Beach on Route 55 between Finley Avenue and the Newport channel bridge, consisting of highway right of way deleted by legislative enactment. Authorized by Chapter 238, Statutes of 2009, which amended Section 355 of the Streets and Highways Code.

In 2014, AB 2752 (Chapter 345, 9/15/2014) changed the definition to reflect the relinquishment within Newport Beach: "Route 55 is from the south end of Newport Beach Channel Bridge to Route 91 in Santa Ana Canyon". It also changed the paragraph relating to the relinquished portion to the past tense.

Pre 1964 Signage History Pre 1964 Signage History

In 1934, Route 55 was signed along the route from Jct. Route 3 (US 101A, later Route 1) at Newport Beach to Jct. Route 18 (US 91, later Route 91) near Olive. This was LRN 43 (defined in 1931). It ran N along Newport Blvd from Route 3 (LRN 60, later US-101A; now Route 1) turning N onto Tustin Avenue near Santa Ana and continuing N to Route 18 (LRN 43, later US 91, now Route 91).

Status Status

Route 55 General

In 2005, Northbound Route 55 had its control city changed from "Riverside" to "Anaheim/Riverside".

Constructed to freeway standards between 3 mi S of Route 73 and Route 91. The first segment opened in 1962. The last segment opened in 1990, when the route was extended from I-405 to 19th St. Carpool lanes were added in 1999.

In December 2005, the OCTA elminated from consideration plans to widen Route 55, into which Route 91 feeds, and to widen Ortega Highway (Route 74) in South County.

In June 2007, the OCTA outlined a 5-year plan for the use of the 2nd Measure M funds that included adding lanes on Route 91 between I-5 and Route 57 and between Route 55 and the Riverside County border; adding lanes on I-405 between I-605 and Route 55; a new NB lane on Route 57 between Orangewood Avenue and Lambert Road.

Newport Beach (Route 1) to Santa Ana/Tustin (I-5)

In May 2013, the CTC authorized relinquishment of right of way in the city of Newport Beach on Route 55 between Finley Avenue and the Newport channel bridge (~ ORA 0.17 to ORA 0.185), consisting of highway right of way deleted by legislative enactment. Authorized by Chapter 238, Statutes of 2009, which amended Section 355 of the Streets and Highways Code.

Freeway End Improvements in Costa Mesa (~ ORA 2.032)

[Extension Map]In May 2007, the OCTA approved a 14-month study to examine how to relieve congestion at the end of the Costa Mesa Freeway (Route 55) in Costa Mesa. The contract calls for LSA Associates to receive up to $275,000 to develop concepts for improving access to and from the route, which currently ends at 19th Street (~ ORA 2.032). State plans for the freeway include an extension from 19th Street to the vicinity of Industrial Way near the city limits of Newport Beach. The study will explore alternatives to the extension and ways to improve traffic flow in the area. Slides related to this study were presented in May 2008. There were a number of alternatives presented: (a) no-build, (b) the current easterly freeway extension plan, (c) a transportation management system alternative, (d) improving conventional highways, (e) "vertical terminal enhancement", (f) an elevated freeway along Newport Bl, (g) a cut-and-cover freeway along Newport Bl. The goal is to have the study completed by Fall 2008.

In February 2010, it was reported that Costa Mesa officials are beginning a project study aimed at relieving gridlock where Route 55 ends on Newport Boulevard. The report will examine various proposed solutions and look at the project’s effect on local businesses and residents, according to the Daily Pilot. Costa Mesa took on the expansion project more than a year ago.
(Source: "Traffic jam goes to study", Daily Pilot, 2/18/2010)

Route 405 to Route 5 Corridor Improvements (~ ORA R6.091 to ORA 10.328)

The 2018 STIP, approved at the CTC March 2018 meeting, appears to allocate $80M in Construction funding in FY21-22 for PPNO 3470, Central Corridor Improvements, Rt 405-Rt 5 (SHOPP)

In March 2020, the CTC approved the 2020 STIP, which shifts the programmed funding of $80M for PPNO 3470 "Corridor Imprvmnts, Rt 405-Rt 5 (SHOPP)(SB1)" from FY21-22 to FY20-21.
(Source: March 2020 CTC Agenda, Item 4.7, 2020 STIP Adopted 3/25/2020)

[Alton Ave]In June 2006, the CTC received the Final EIR on a project to modify the Alton Ave overcrossing (~ ORA R7.51) and add High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) drop ramps in the cities of Santa Ana and Irvine. The total estimated project cost, escalated to the construction year, is $92.6 million. The project is being divided into two construction phases: Phase I will be the overcrossing, and Phase II will be the HOV drop ramps. Phase I is scheduled to begin construction in Fiscal Year 2008-09. This project is being funded by the Measure M Regional Improvement Program, Measure M Growth Management Area Program, local dollars from the cities of Santa Ana and Irvine, and other local sources. Route 55 creates a boundary between the cities of Santa Ana and Irvine. Interchanges at MacArthur Boulevard and Dyer Road exist that link these two cities. Growth trends in both cities have generated traffic congestion and have created the need for additional circulation improvements. In 1982, the Irvine Business Complex identified the need for a four-lane overcrossing connecting Alton Avenue on each side of Route 55, and in April 1986, the city of Santa Ana identified the Alton overcrossing as a priority project. The proposed project would entail construction of a four-lane overcrossing connecting Alton Avenue on each side of Route 55. This addition would add high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) direct access drop ramps to and from Route 55 to the Alton Avenue overcrossing. The purpose of the project is to provide a transportation link across Route 55, support circulation between the cities of Santa Ana and Irvine, relieve local traffic congestion, support planned development and growth in the cities of Irvine and Santa Ana, and improve HOV access as indicated by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). The 2002 traffic studies done in the project vicinity show that congestion is anticipated to increase as urbanization and growth continues. By 2025, 13 of 16 local street intersections studied (cities of Irvine and Santa Ana traffic models) showed that they would operate at an unacceptable Level of Service (LOS) E or F. HOV access to and from Route 55 is currently limited to Dyer Road and MacArthur Boulevard. The 2002 traffic studies also showed that traffic volumes resulted in congestion between the Dyer Road and MacArthur Boulevard interchanges and that weaving sections to the mainline resulted in a LOS of F. Construction of HOV direct access ramps at Alton Road would improve conditions at Dyer Road and MacArthur Boulevard. This would reduce HOV traffic from those interchanges and distribute it onto Alton Avenue. This would improve surface street operations as well as the Route 55 mainline operations. Alton Avenue is not continuous between the cities of Santa Ana and Irvine nor does it currently cross or connect to Route 55. The preferred selected alternative is the Alton Ave HOV direct access ramps. In order to execute this project, Commission approval is required for the new public road connection to Route 55. The additional HOV access was identified by OCTA in the 1987 Orange County Transitway Concept Design Study, the 1996 Caltrans Route Concept Report, the 2004 State Transportation Improvement Plan, the 2004 Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Regional Transportation Improvement Plan (RTIP), and the 2004 SCAG Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).

SR-55 Improvement Project (Lane Additions) - Tustin (I-405) to Santa Ana (I-5) (ORA 6.4/10.3)

Map of Rte 55 Improvement Project Rte 405 to Rte 5In March 2011, the CTC approved constructing an auxiliary lane between interchanges from Dyer Road off ramp to the Edinger Avenue on ramp to address the weaving operations of vehicles and increase the level of service.
(Image source: OCTA SR-55 April 2017 Public Meeting Exhibits)

In May 2017, it was reported that Southern California transit agencies are evaluating options for improving Route 55 in both directions between I-405 and I-5, through the cities of Santa Ana, Irvine and Tustin. The project is in the environmental phase, and the original Draft Environmental Document was made available to the public in November 2015. As a result of comments received during the public circulation of the Draft Environmental Document, an additional alternative was included for study – Alternative 3 Modified. Alternative 3M includes new carpool, general-purpose and auxiliary lanes in each direction. A supplemental Draft Environmental Document focusing on the analysis of Alternative 3M was prepared and made available in April 2017 for public comment. The comment period has closed. Once a preferred alternative is approved, the project will move into the design phase, which is expected to begin as early as 2018. Construction could begin in 2021 and is expected to take approximately four years.
(Source: OCTA Blog, 5/17/2017)

In October 2016, the CTC amended the SHOPP as follows: 12-Ora-55 R8.0/R9.2 | Route 55 In the cities of Santa Ana and Tustin, from Dyer Road on ramp to Edinger Avenue off ramp. Construct northbound auxiliary lane. The project is proposed to be combined with a mobility OCTA Measure M improvement project 12-0J340 on Route 55 from Route 405 to Route 5. The final environmental document for 12-0J340 will incorporate the north bound auxilary lane from 12-0G950. The environmental document will clear the auxilary lane as an indpendent project in the event 12-0J340 does not proceed forward. As a result, of creating one single environmental document there is a reduction in resources to complete PA&ED. However, there is an increase in right of way support to address condemnation activities that were not accounted for whle programming the project. These changes result in a net zero cost change in the project.

In October 2017, the CTC approved for future consideration of funding a project that proposes to add additional lanes on Route 55, between the cities of Santa Ana and Tustin in Orange County (12-Ora-55, PM 6.4/10.3). This project includes a second HOV lane and a general purpose lane in both directions. Auxiliary lanes at different locations are also proposed. The project is fully funded and programmed in the 2016 SHOPP for $46.8 million. The total cost of the project is estimated at $256.5 million and estimated to begin construction in Fiscal Year 2019-20. The scope, as described for the preferred alternative, is consistent with the project scope programmed by the Commission in the 2016 SHOPP.
(Source: CTC October 2017 Agenda Item 2.2c.(1))

The following project was included in the final adopted 2018 SHOPP in March 2018: PPNO 3483. 12-Orange-55 R8.0/R9.2. Route 55 In the cities of Santa Ana and Tustin, from Dyer Road onramp to Edinger Avenue offramp. Construct northbound auxiliary lane. Begin Con: 12/23/2020. Total Project Cost: $46,800K.

In December 2019, the CTC had on its agenda an allocation of $24,500,000 for the Right of Way capital phase for PPNO 3483 Proj ID 1215000045 EA 0G950 on Route 55, in Orange County (12-Ora-55 R8.0/R9.2). The project is located in the cities of Santa Ana and Tustin in Orange County. The project proposes to construct an auxiliary lane on northbound Route 55 between the Dyer Road on-ramp and Edinger Avenue off-ramp. The project scope requires acquisition from 7 parcels, including fee acquisition, permanent easements, and temporary construction easements, as well as relocation assistance and utility relocation coordination. Concurrent with the Department’s SHOPP project, Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is implementing a widening project on Route 55 from I-405 to I-5 adding one high occupancy lane, one general purpose lane, and auxiliary lanes at several locations. Seven (7) out of a total of thirty-one (31) right of way requirements for these two projects overlap between the Dyer Road on-ramp and Edinger Avenue off-ramp. To limit the inconveniences of property owners and utility companies, the Department requested through a Cooperative Agreement that OCTA deliver the right of way needed for the SHOPP project simultaneously with their widening project. The Department provided the right of way requirements and mapping for the acquisition and utility relocations associated with the SHOPP project. Combining these efforts eliminates duplicative work and creates efficiencies. The Right of Way capital estimate for the SHOPP project is attributed to complex right of way acquisitions involving commercial industrial properties including motels, retail and light manufacturing properties, and utility relocation impacting business parking spaces and buildings. The Right of Way capital estimate is $24,500,000.
(Source: December 2019 CTC Agenda, Agenda Item 2.5b.(3))

In May 2020, it was reported that the SR-55 Improvement Project is expected to break ground in 2021, and will reduce travel times between I-405 and I-5 through one of the most highly congested stretches of freeway in the county. Funded by OC Go (also known as Measure M), the $411 million project is expected to be completed in 2024 and will add one regular lane and one carpool lane in each direction of Route 55 through the cities of Irvine, Santa Ana and Tustin, along with auxiliary lanes between interchanges. The project’s final design was submitted to Caltrans in late April 2020, and right-of-way, utility relocation coordination and public outreach activities are ongoing.
(Source: OCTA Blog, 5/20/2020)

Santa Ana/Tustin (I-5) to Anaheim/Villa Park (Route 91)

In November 2010, the CTC authorized relinquishment of right of way in the city of Orange along Route 55 at Chapman Avenue (~ ORA 13.672), consisting of collateral facilities.

In December 2015, it was reported that preliminary plans are in progress to build a new interchange at Route 55 and Meats Avenue (~ ORA 16.141), near the Village at Orange. Environmental documents are being prepared for an eventual study. However, there isn’t any money budgeted for this project, so it’s unclear when it might get built. The surrounding neighborhoods will be notified if the project is finally funded and construction is actually planned.
(Source: OC Register "On The Road", 12/10/2015)

Naming Naming

Route 55 from Costa Mesa to Route 91 (~ ORA 2.032 to ORA R17.61) is officially named the "Costa Mesa Freeway". It was named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 177, Chapter 86, in 1976.

Before 1976, this route was named the "Newport Freeway" (~ ORA 2.032 to ORA R17.61) . Newport refers to the community of Newport, which was named in 1892. The McFadden brothers, who had come from Delaware, started a lumber business in that community in 1873, named their steamer Newport in 1876, and had the townsite of Newport platted in 1892.

Costa Mesa Fire Capt KrezaThe portion of Route 55 from 19th Street (ORA 2.021) to MacArthur Boulevard (ORA R6.985) in the County of Orange is named the Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza Memorial Highway. It was named in memory of Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Captain Michael Kreza, who passed way untimely at 44 years of age, on November 5, 2018. Fire Captain Michael Kreza was a distinguished California firefighter and much-loved family man, whose character, integrity, and singular commitment earned him the respect and admiration of his fellow firefighters, the members of the greater Costa Mesa community, and the countless other individuals whose lives he touched. He was the son of a police officer, grew up in the City of Irvine and chose to follow in his father’s footsteps by engaging his passion in a career protecting the public, and enrolled in fire science classes at Santa Ana College after high school, which inaugurated his commitment to the firefighting profession as a Paid Call Firefighter with the Orange County Fire Authorityd. Following his graduation from the Crafton Hills Fire Academy in 1993, Michael Kreza sought to further advance his emergency responder skills, and while working in the Hoag Hospital Irvine Emergency Department, he was accepted to the Paramedic Program at Saddleback College, from which he graduated in 1997. Having subsequently gained experience as an Emergency Department Technician in Seattle, Washington, and as a paramedic in Las Vegas, Nevada, Michael Kreza returned to California, where he worked as a firefighter for the Big Bear Fire Department before being hired in 2000 by the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department. Throughout his 18-year tenure with Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue, Fire Captain Kreza brought his tireless dedication and boundless zeal to the force through his participation as a wholly engaged member of the department’s close-knit firefighting community, within which he shared his experience and leadership by, among other things, serving as a member of the Tools and Equipment Committee, managing the charity fund, and participating in the Honor Guard. As Michael Kreza rose to the rank of Fire Captain and took his well-merited position as an esteemed veteran of the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department, Fire Captain Kreza also served as an ever-inspiring role model, pursued his love of being an accomplished Ironman athlete, and he earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia Southern University. He died, while off-duty and training for an Ironman marathon, when he was struck and critically injured in a crash involving a suspected DUI driver while cycling on Alicia Parkway near Via Burgos in Mission Viejo. He suffered apparent trauma to the head and body and was rushed to a hospital. He remained in critical condition until he died. Named by Senate Concurrent Resolution 21 (SCR 21), Resolution Chapter 139, 9/3/19.
(Source: Death information from KTLA, 11/5/2018)

Paul Johnson DedicationThe southbound portion of Route 55 between Chapman Avenue and Katella Avenue (~ ORA 13.657 to ORA 15.201), in Orange County, is officially named the "Paul Johnson Highway". This segment was named in honor of Paul Johnson, who began his broadcasting career in the 1950s at a rock and roll station in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Paul Johnson interrupted his career to serve in the United States Army in 1956 and 1957; and after his military service, Paul Johnson returned to broadcasting and relocated to Los Angeles. Paul Johnson appeared in the 1969 motion picture "Paint Your Wagon" and was one of 60 men that sang the musical score for the movie. Paul Johnson sang bass and appeared in several opera productions and in numerous television commercials. Johnson began traffic reporting in 1982 on the radio at several Los Angeles stations, including, KNX, KZLA, KACE, KXEZ, and KSRF. Since August 1988, Paul Johnson had been a part of KNBC's on-air team. During his tenure with KNBC, Paul Johnson served as a weather and traffic report anchor and contributor. Johnson delivered traffic information daily to millions of southern Californians for 28 years, and ended nearly all of his reports urging viewers to buckle up and be safe on the road. Named by Assembly Concurrant Resolution (ACR) 179, 9/14/2010, Resolution Chapter 160.
(Source: Image snarfed from OC Register, 2/24/2011)

Mark Denis MelbourneThe Route 55/Route 91 interchange (~ ORA R17.61) is named the "Mark Denis Melbourne Memorial Interchange". Mark Denis Melbourne was a fixture on southern California radio, giving traffic reports for four decades. He was regarded as one of the most respected broadcasters in southern California and was used as the "image voice" for KFI 640 AM. He was also a part-time communications instructor at the University of Southern California, and was regarded as having loved to share his knowledge of broadcasting with others. He advocated reporting traffic without panic and with caring, and was willing to help frustrated drivers avoid bottlenecks. He was also the unidentified voice on the monorail that ferries visitors around Disneyland. He died of a fatal illness in the year 2000 in his home in Anaheim Hills at the early age of 59. Named by Senate Concurrent Resolution 50, Chapter 104, on August 8, 2002.
(Image source: The Southern Californian)

Commuter Lanes Commuter Lanes

Commuter lanes have been constructed between Baker Street in Costa Mesa and Route 91 in Anaheim. These lanes opened in November 1985, require two or more occupants, and are always in operation.

The August 2005 CTC agenda had an item regarding a negative environmental impact report regarding modification of an overcrossing and the addition of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) drop ramps in Santa Ana and Irvine (DEIR).

Classified Landcaped Freeway Classified Landcaped Freeway

The following segments are designated as Classified Landscaped Freeway:

County Route Starting PM Ending PM
Orange 55 T2.22 R2.52
Orange 55 R2.73 R2.92
Orange 55 R3.03 R6.40
Orange 55 R6.84 R7.18
Orange 55 R7.66 R8.06
Orange 55 R9.56 R9.91
Orange 55 10.22 10.79
Orange 55 10.86 13.69
Orange 55 16.84 17.07
Orange 55 17.46 17.83

Freeway Freeway

[SHC 253.1] Entire route. Added to the Freeway and Expressway system in 1959.

Exit Information Exit Information

Other WWW Links Other WWW Links

Statistics Statistics

Overall statistics for Route 55:

Pre-1964 Legislative Route Pre-1964 Legislative Route

The route that become LRN 55 was first defined in the 1919 Third Bond Act as running from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. In 1935, this was codified into the state highway code as:

"The Skyline Boulevard from San Francisco to [LRN 5]"

This definition remained unchanged until the 1963 renumbering. The routing ran along Skyline Blvd from approximately Route 1, LRN 56 in San Francisco to LRN 5 (Route 17). It was originally signed as Route 5, and was renumbered as Route 35 to avoid the conflict with I-5.


Acronyms and Explanations:


Back Arrow Route 54 Forward Arrow Route 56

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