Frequently Asked Questions

The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) recognizes that the 101 is congested and needs to be addressed. The purpose of this project is to:

  • Reduce existing congestion
  • Improve traffic operations
  • Accommodate future traffic volumes forecasted in this area

With this in mind, this project may include some of the following:

  • Additional lanes on the 101 which may be designated for high-occupancy vehicles or HOVs also known as carpools
  • Auxiliary lanes between interchanges
  • On-ramp or off-ramp improvements
  • Ramp intersection improvements

VCTC is the project sponsor. They are working in partnership with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) who will be the Lead Agency for the development of a Combined California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) / National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessment (EA).

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has an oversight role because this project proposes to make improvements to a federal route (US 101).  The four Ventura County cities which touch the 101 and the County of Ventura are represented on the Project Development Team to guide the preparation of the EIR/EA.  Many other state and federal agencies will be consulted during the development of this project.

Congestion in the project area is already bad. The population in the region has grown by 45% since 1990 and is projected to continue to grow although at a slower pace. Currently, the 101 operates at Level of Service (LOS) C to LOS F in the morning and evening peak periods which means that cars are not moving at free flow speeds.

The Project Development Team has chosen three Alternatives to move into the next step. These alternatives are:

  • Alternative 1 – No Build
  • Alternative 2 – Add an HOV/Express Bus Lane in each direction
  • Alternative 3 – Add an HOV/Express Bus Lane in each direction, with design variations In general, the alternatives were structured to gain the greatest improvement in traffic conditions and safety levels relative to the costs involved.

HOV lanes move more people in fewer cars moving at higher speeds than general purpose lanes. To minimize the impact of the improvements, HOV lanes are being considered. Additionally, HOV lanes do not currently exist in the project area, so the addition of HOV lanes provides a new option for an improved trip.  Buses (including inter-city buses) are high-occupancy vehicles and can use the HOV lanes which removes them from the general purpose lanes.  It also provides them with a shorter and more reliable trip time compared to the general purpose lanes making transit service more attractive to commuters and travelers.

For this project, Alternative 2 is specifically listed as “non-standard” for two reasons:

  • In some locations the left shoulder is proposed to be less than the standard width of 10 feet. Some portions of the 27-mile project area will have 10-foot left shoulders.
  • Some of the lanes will be less than the standard width of 12 feet. There may be locations where the HOV lane and the two inside lanes will be 11 feet.  In all locations the lanes be at least 11 feet wide.

While adding a general purpose lane was not one of the alternatives included in the early planning phase, a general purpose lane alternative was evaluated in the alternatives analysis phase.  The width of a general purpose lane alternative is similar to the width of Alternatives 2 and 3, and as such, the physical impacts and cost of a general purpose lane alternative is similar to Alternatives 2 and 3, a general purpose lane does not move as many people as quickly or reliably as an HOV lane alternative.  For those reasons it was eliminated from further consideration.

  • A high-occupancy vehicle lane or HOV lane is another name for a carpool lane.  Carpool lanes are sometimes known as diamond lanes because there are diamonds painted in them to differentiate them from general purpose lanes.
  • General purpose lanes are called that because they are intended for general use with no specific designation for the type of vehicle or the operational characteristics of the lane.  Truck lanes are intended for trucks, and HOV lanes are intended for HOVs.
  • Auxiliary lanes allow vehicles to enter and exit the flow of traffic between interchanges without impacting the speed in the general purpose lanes.  They begin where an on-ramp joins the freeway and end where an off-ramp exits the freeway and are sometimes referred to as acceleration or deceleration lanes.

Early planning phase construction cost estimates range from $575 million to $2 billion depending on the alternative.These cost estimates will be refined as the project progresses.

This current phase of the project is being funded through Ventura County’s share of federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds. Funding for design and construction has not yet been identified.  Possible funding sources include, Federal, State and local.

The environmental document will evaluate benefits and impacts in topics such as but not limited to:

  • Aesthetics
  • Agricultural Resources
  • Air Quality
  • Biological Resources
  • Community and Neighborhoods
  • Construction Impacts
  • Cultural and Historic Resources
  • Environmental Justice
  • Geology and Soils
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Growth
  • Hazards and Hazardous Materials
  • Hydrology and Water Quality
  • Land Use and Planning
  • Land Acquisitions, Displacement and Relocation
  • Noise and Vibration
  • Parks and Recreation Areas
  • Public Services
  • Transportation/Traffic
  • Tribal Cultural Resources
  • Safety and Security
  • Wildfire
  • Wildlife

All of these study topics will contribute to the overall decision on a preferred alternative.

All property that will potentially be impacted will be identified during the preparation of the environmental document.  It will not be known for certain which properties will be impacted until an alternative is selected, and the project proceeds to the final design phase.

The benefits and impacts of local interchange and ramp improvements will be evaluated as part of the project at locations where the project causes traffic growth or where improvements on the freeway general purpose lanes require realignment of ramps.

The project will be constructed as funding becomes available. If funding for the entire project is available at one time, it will be constructed as a single project.  If funding is provided in amounts less than the full project cost, VCTC will establish which sections can be funded with the money that is available.

Because of the scale of the project and the amount of money it will take to pay for the construction, VCTC is currently estimating that construction will be complete by 2040. If full funding is available sooner, then construction will start sooner. The actual construction period can only be determined once the construction funding plan is determined.

A decision on the preferred alternative is currently anticipated in Fall 2022.

Based on the project development process, the project is currently in the ‘Traffic, Engineering, and Environmental Studies’ phase. In this phase each of the three alternatives will be analyzed based on specific evaluation criteria. These studies will help gather information in order to choose one final alternative.

Although the legally mandated public comment period for the scoping process has closed, VCTC believes public comments are a vital component of the environmental study process and informs decision makers on how the Ventura County residents feel about this project and its components.  Public input allows for a more holistic project design, that better addresses the needs of the public.  Public comments can still be submitted via the project website, or mailed to:

Susan Tse
Senior Environmental Planner
California Department of Transportation
Division of Environmental Planning
100 S. Main St. MS 16A
Los Angeles, CA 90012
or via email to:  info@ourfuture101.org

The next opportunity for public involvement will be at a future VCTC Board meeting.

Please visit: https://www.goventura.org/current-meetings/ for further information.

Feedback provided by stakeholders and the general public allowed for the consideration of alternatives beyond those presented in the public scoping meetings. While only the No Build and two Build Alternatives are proceeding for further study, many alternatives were considered and reviewed during the alternatives analysis phase to ensure the two build alternatives best meet the purpose and need of the project.

The US 101 Improvement Project will consider city plans for bicycle (and pedestrian) facilities on local streets.  In locations where construction will occur on local streets, and where planned facilities are consistent with Caltrans standards (sidewalks, required shoulders that could be used as bike lanes) the US 101 Improvement Project will include them for the safety of all users including drivers, pedestrians and bicyclist. In addition, VCTC has prepared the 101 Communities Connected Study, as a separate project, which will work in concert with land use planning to evaluate existing and future multimodal transportation networks along with recommendations for and phasing of improvements.

The environmental study and documentation process will address both impacts to the natural environment, as well as the built environment.  The Project team will follow the guidelines set forth by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

As part of the development of the environmental document, the Project team is studying potential impacts to both Cultural and Historic Resources located along the Project corridor.  The potential for these resources to be impacted will be disclosed to the public within the environmental document.

The US 101 project will consider how improvements will benefit or impact all users, including the public transportation system. Additionally, other studies are occurring simultaneously to this project that will assist in addressing the overall public transportation availability and need throughout the county. Please see VCTC’s transit web page for all local transit options: https://www.goventura.org/vctc-transit/local-bus/

As a part of the initial planning phase, the design team is considering alternatives that were presented at the public scoping meetings as well as those that came as a result of stakeholder and public feedback during the scoping process. At this time, and based off feedback received, the team is considering options that include HOV lanes because they address the purpose and need of the project and provide a higher benefit when compared to non-HOV alternatives.

The current phase of the project is being funded through Ventura County’s share of federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds. Funding for design and construction has not yet be identified.  Possible funding sources include, Federal, State and local.

Lighting will be considered as a part of potential safety improvements.

Public transit access to the improved facility will be considered to provide US 101 users additional choices in mode of transportation and minimize impact to existing public transit services.  Additionally, buses will utilize the HOV lanes thereby removing them from the general purpose lanes and increasing efficiency in reaching destinations.

The project team is currently studying the wildlife in the area and the Project’s potential impacts as part of the environmental document process.  Studies for all wildlife such as birds, mammals, plants as well as wildlife movement are currently being conducted.  The findings will be presented when the Draft Environmental Impact Report is available, anticipated for release in 2021.

The project will comply with all local, state and federal ordinances and guidelines pertaining to wildlife movement, specifically the recently approved Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Corridor Ordinances.  How the project interacts/intersects with the recently adopted wildlife corridor ordinance and the potential for conflicts will be analyzed.  Regional wildlife movement is a growing concern, that has been recognized by Caltrans.  As part of the development of the environmental document, project biologist will study wildlife movement throughout the project corridor.  Existing wildlife movement, potential project impacts to movement, as well as avoidance and minimization measures, will be a component of the environmental document.