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California State Route 55

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State Route 55 marker

State Route 55
State Route 55 highlighted in red
Route information
Defined by Streets and Highways Code § 355
Maintained by Caltrans
Length17.807 mi[1] (28.658 km)
Major junctions
South endVia Lido in Newport Beach
North end SR 91 in Anaheim
Highway system
California 54.svg SR 54California 56.svg 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[edit]

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 $30.4 million in 2019[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]

Exit List[edit]

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
4.747.635A SR 73 north (Corona del Mar Freeway) to I-405 north (San Diego Freeway) – Long BeachNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
SR 73 south (Corona del Mar Freeway) – San Diego via toll road
5BBaker Street
5.999.646A I-405 north (San Diego Freeway) – Long BeachSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; I-405 exit 9A
6B I-405 south (San Diego Freeway) – San Diego, John Wayne AirportSigned as exit 6 northbound; I-405 exit 9A
I-405 southHOV access only; southbound exit and northbound entrance
I-405 northHOV access only; southbound exit and northbound entrance
Santa Ana6.9911.257MacArthur Boulevard, Main Street
7.8512.638Dyer RoadSigned as exits 8A (east) and 8B (west) southbound
9.4415.199Edinger Avenue
Santa AnaTustin line9.9616.0310AMcFadden Avenue – TustinSigned as exit 10 southbound
Tustin I-5 north – Santa AnaHOV access only; northbound exit and southbound entrance
10B I-5 north (Santa Ana Freeway) – Santa AnaNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; I-5 exit 103 southbound, 103A northbound
10.9817.6711A I-5 south (Santa Ana Freeway) – San DiegoI-5 exit 103 southbound, 103B northbound
Santa AnaTustin line11B4th Street, Irvine Boulevard
11.7918.971217th Street – Tustin, Santa AnaSigned as exits 12A (east) and 12B (west) southbound
Orange12.9720.8713 SR 22 west (Garden Grove Freeway) – Long BeachSR 22 exits 17B-C
13.7022.0514Chapman Avenue (CR S25 east) – OrangeSigned as exits 14A (east) and 14B (west) northbound
15.2424.5315Katella Avenue (CR S18 south) – Villa Park
16.9827.3317Lincoln Avenue, Nohl Ranch Road
Anaheim17.8328.6918A SR 91 west (Riverside Freeway) – Los AngelesSR 91 exit 34
SR 91 east (91 Express Lanes)Northbound left exit and southbound left entrance
18B SR 91 east (Riverside Freeway) – Anaheim, RiversideNorthern 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[edit]


  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c d Staff. "Route Concept Report: State Route 55" (PDF). California Department of Transportation. Retrieved 4 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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 2015). 2014 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California. Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. p. 46. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 30, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Staff. "SR-55 Background and History". California Department of Transportation. Retrieved 5 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Road Map of California (Map). California Division of Highways. 1936.
  12. ^ Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2020). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved September 22, 2020. 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. Retrieved 22 April 2007. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Rogers, Bob (23 September 2011). "Mayor Howard Rogers and the Freeway Fight". Newport Beach Independent. Newport Beach, California. Retrieved 5 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ OCTA Completed Freeway Projects
  17. ^ Staff. "Bill Text: CA Assembly Bill 344 - 2009-2010 Session". LegiScan. Retrieved 5 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ California (Map). Shell Oil Company. 1965.
  19. ^ Gauthier, Andrew (2011-02-23). "Longtime KNBC Traffic Reporter Paul Johnson Gets His Own Freeway - TVSpy". Retrieved 7 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata