California State Route 55

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State Route 55

SR 55 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length17.807 mi[1] (28.658 km)
Major junctions
South endVia Lido in Newport Beach
Major intersections
North end SR 91 in Anaheim
CountryUnited States
Highway system
SR 54 SR 56

State Route 55 (SR 55) is an 18-mile (30-km) long north–south state highway that passes through suburban Orange County in the U.S. state of California. The portion of the route built to freeway standards is known as the Costa Mesa Freeway (formerly the Newport Freeway). SR 55 runs between Via Lido[2] south of Pacific Coast Highway (SR 1) in Newport Beach and the Riverside Freeway (SR 91) in Anaheim to the north, intersecting other major Orange County freeways such as SR 22, SR 73, and Interstate 405 (I-405).

SR 55 was first added to the state highway system in 1931, known as part of Legislative Route 43, and was routed on surface streets. It was renumbered SR 55 in 1959, and the construction of the freeway portion began in the 1960s and continued until 1992. Due to congestion, several alternatives are being discussed to expand the freeway portion past its current end in Newport Beach. SR 55 received the first carpool lane in Orange County in 1985, and the first direct carpool ramp in 1995.

Route description

Starting at Via Lido on Newport Boulevard in Newport Beach, 0.3 miles (0.48 km) south of SR 1, SR 55 (Newport Boulevard) is a four-lane expressway for approximately 0.75 miles (1.21 km) to its intersection with 17th Street in Costa Mesa. It then follows a traditional street routing through a retail and commercial section of Costa Mesa until its intersection with 19th Street. The segment on Newport Boulevard includes a limited-access interchange at SR 1. Following the 19th Street intersection, SR 55 becomes an eight-lane below-grade freeway that bisects the northbound and southbound lanes of Newport Boulevard until the Mesa Drive undercrossing.[3]

North of Fair Drive, SR 55 is an at-grade or above-grade freeway, with the exception of a 1 mile (1.6 km) stretch between the 1st Street/4th Street exit and the 17th Street exit in Santa Ana, which is below-grade. SR 55 intersects SR 73 and I-405 next to John Wayne Airport. The freeway continues north into Santa Ana and Tustin, where there is an interchange with I-5. Southbound SR 55 does not have a direct link to northbound I-5.[3]

SR 55 continues north into Orange, where it meets the eastern terminus of SR 22. Following this, the freeway continues almost due north until reaching its northern terminus at SR 91 near the Santa Ana River. After the last exit, Lincoln Avenue and Nohl Ranch Road, there is an entrance to the 91 Express Lanes from the HOV lane.[3]

Today, SR 55 is a heavily travelled corridor linking southern Orange County with SR 91, the main corridor between the Inland Empire and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, as well as I-5, the main north–south corridor for California. A HOV lane has been built along the entire freeway portion from I-405 to SR 91, with some direct access ramps, including one for I-5. However, congestion is still very prevalent throughout the day, as is the norm with many Orange County freeways; Route 55 experiences a peak daily traffic volume of 262,000 vehicles and 17,292 trucks.[4][5]

SR 55 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System,[6] and is part of the National Highway System,[7] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[8] SR 55 from SR 91 to Costa Mesa is known as the Costa Mesa Freeway, as named by Assembly Concurrent Resolution 177, Chapter 86 in 1976.[9]


SR 55 southbound at I-405 interchange in Costa Mesa

SR 55 was built in 1931 and originally numbered Route 43. It was built from the southern terminus of SR 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway, or "PCH") and continued northbound on roughly the same route it follows today,[10] following Newport Road (today Newport Boulevard) northeast to Tustin, and then Tustin Avenue north to near its current terminus at SR 91.[11] From here, Route 43 continued east on what is now SR 91 towards Riverside. In 1959, the highway was renumbered as Route 55, and its route was shortened from Route 1 to the also-renumbered Route 91.[10] The freeway portion from Chapman Avenue to SR 91 opened on January 18, 1962, at a cost of $4.6 million (equivalent to $34.2 million in 2022[12]).[13] The segment between SR 73 and Chapman Avenue opened in 1966.[5]

SR 55 was the first freeway in Orange County to receive carpool lanes, opened in October 1985 between I-405 and SR 91. The stretch of SR 55 between Mesa Drive and 19th Street in Costa Mesa was opened in 1992;[5] plans to extend SR 55 freeway south from 19th Street to State Route 1 were never realized[14] due to community opposition, fueling an amendment to the city charter to prevent this extension.[15]

In 1995, the direct carpool lane ramps between I-5 and SR 55 were completed; these were the first in Orange County.[5] The year also saw further widening of SR 55 between SR 22 and McFadden Avenue. Between 1996 and 2002, the fifth lane in both directions was constructed between I-5 and SR 91, funded with a sales tax of half a cent approved by Measure M.[16] In April 2007, the Orange County Transportation Authority approved funds to study the feasibility of extending the Costa Mesa Freeway south to 17th Street via tunnels or flyover ramps.[14] The segment of SR 55 from Finley Street to the Newport Channel bridge was legally authorized to be turned over to the city of Newport Beach in 2009.[17]

In the mid 2000s, Caltrans began adding the city of Anaheim as a control city on State Route 55 North. Signs that mention State Route 55 North would have the newer reflective posting pasted over the button sign or would be replaced with a new one that says "Anaheim/Riverside" to reflect this change.

SR 55 was formerly called the Newport Freeway.[18] In 2010, the stretch between Chapman and Katella Avenues in the City of Orange was renamed the Paul Johnson Freeway for longtime local radio and television traffic reporter Paul Johnson, who died the same year.[19]

On May 21, 2021, a road rage incident occurred in which the perpetrator fatally shot 6-year-old Aiden Leos, a passenger in his mother's car as it was traveling on the 55 Freeway.[20] On June 6, Marcus Anthony Eriz and Wynne Lee were arrested in connection with the death. Both suspects pleaded not guilty in court on June 18.[21]

Exit list

The entire route is in Orange County.

Newport BeachNewport Boulevard southContinuation beyond Finley Avenue
0.000.00[a]Finley AvenueOriginal southern terminus of SR 55[a]
0.100.16[a]Via LidoSouth end of state maintenance[a]
0.270.431 SR 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) – Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Long Beach
Costa Mesa1.873.012Newport Boulevard north, Harbor BoulevardSouth end of freeway; northbound exit and southbound entrance
2.774.463Victoria Street, 22nd Street
4.026.474Del Mar Avenue, Fair Drive
SR 73 south (Corona del Mar Freeway) – San Diego via toll road

SR 73 north (Corona del Mar Freeway) to I-405 north (San Diego Freeway) – Long Beach
Northbound exit and southbound entrance
5CBaker StreetSigned as exit 5B southbound
I-405 north (San Diego Freeway) – Long Beach
Southbound exit and northbound entrance; northbound access is via exit 5B; I-405 exit 9A
I-405 south (San Diego Freeway) – San Diego, John Wayne Airport
Signed as exit 6 northbound; I-405 exit 9A

I-405 south
HOV access only; southbound exit and northbound entrance

I-405 north
HOV access only; southbound exit and northbound entrance
IrvineSanta Ana line6.9911.257MacArthur Boulevard, Main Street
Santa Ana7.8512.638Dyer RoadSigned as exits 8A (east) and 8B (west) southbound
Santa AnaTustin line9.4415.199Edinger Avenue
9.9616.0310AMcFadden AvenueSigned as exit 10 southbound
I-5 north – Santa Ana
HOV access only; northbound exit and southbound entrance
I-5 north (Santa Ana Freeway) – Santa Ana
Northbound exit and southbound entrance; I-5 exit 103 southbound, 103A northbound
I-5 south (Santa Ana Freeway) – San Diego
I-5 exit 103 southbound, 103B northbound
Santa AnaTustin line11B4th Street, Irvine Boulevard
11.7918.971217th StreetSigned as exits 12A (east) and 12B (west) southbound
SR 22 west (Garden Grove Freeway) – Long Beach
SR 22 exits 17B-C
13.7022.0514Chapman Avenue (CR S25 east)Signed as exits 14A (east) and 14B (west) northbound
15.2424.5315Katella Avenue (CR S18 south) – Villa Park
16.9827.3317Lincoln Avenue, Nohl Ranch Road
SR 91 west (Riverside Freeway) – Los Angeles
SR 91 exit 34

91 Express Lanes east
Northbound left exit and southbound left entrance
SR 91 east (Riverside Freeway) – Anaheim, Riverside
Northern terminus of SR 55; SR 91 exit 34
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  1. ^ a b c d Miles and exit numbers are measured from SR 55's original southern end at Finley Avenue, before the segment between Finley Avenue and Via Lido was deleted and relinquished to local control in 2014.

See also


  1. ^ California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  2. ^ "California Highways ( Routes 49 through 56". Retrieved 29 June 2018.l
  3. ^ a b c Google (10 February 2008). "SR 55" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
  4. ^ Staff. 2005 Average Annual Daily Truck Traffic on the California highway system (PDF). California Department of Transportation. p. 94. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d Staff. "Route Concept Report: State Route 55" (PDF). California Department of Transportation. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  7. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: Los Angeles, CA (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  8. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  9. ^ California Department of Transportation; California State Transportation Agency (January 2021). 2020 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California (PDF). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. p. 41. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2022. {{cite book}}: |archive-date= / |archive-url= timestamp mismatch; October 10, 2022 suggested (help)
  10. ^ a b Staff. "SR-55 Background and History". California Department of Transportation. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  11. ^ Road Map of California (Map). California Division of Highways. 1936.
  12. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved December 19, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  13. ^ "New Freeway Section Will Open Today". Los Angeles Times. 18 January 1962. p. D15.
  14. ^ a b "OC Set To Study New End to 55 Freeway" (PDF). Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2007.
  15. ^ Rogers, Bob (23 September 2011). "Mayor Howard Rogers and the Freeway Fight". Newport Beach Independent. Newport Beach, California. Retrieved 5 July 2012.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ OCTA Completed Freeway Projects
  17. ^ Staff. "Bill Text: CA Assembly Bill 344 - 2009-2010 Session". LegiScan. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  18. ^ California (Map). Shell Oil Company. 1965.
  19. ^ Gauthier, Andrew (2011-02-23). "Longtime KNBC Traffic Reporter Paul Johnson Gets His Own Freeway - TVSpy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-14. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  20. ^ Amy Powell (23 May 2021). "Family of boy killed on Orange County freeway grateful for outpouring of community support". ABC news. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  21. ^ Nathaniel Percy (June 11, 2021). "Aiden Leos to be memorialized with plaque at OC Zoo". Orange County Register.
  22. ^ a b Warring, KS (April 18, 2008). "Route 55 Freeway Interchanges" (PDF). California Numbered Exit Uniform System. California Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 16, 2015.

External links