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California State Route 55

State Route 55 marker

State Route 55
Route information
Defined by Streets and Highways Code § 355
Maintained by Caltrans
Length: 17.807 mi[1] (28.658 km)
Existed: 1964 – present
Major junctions
South end: Finley Avenue in Newport Beach
  SR 1 in Newport Beach
SR 73 in Costa Mesa
I‑405 in Costa Mesa
I‑5 in Tustin
SR 22 near Orange
North end: SR 91 in Anaheim
Highway system
SR 54 SR 56

State Route 55 (SR 55) is an 18-mile (30-km) long north–south highway 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 Finley Avenue 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). The freeway passes through suburban Orange County.

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 1
  • History 2
  • Major intersections 3
  • References 4

Route description

Starting at Finley Avenue 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.[2]

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. The southbound side of the Costa Mesa Freeway does not have a direct link to northbound I-5.[2]

SR 55 continues north into Orange, where it meets the eastern terminus of SR 22. Following this, the freeway continues almost due north until turning northeast to merge with SR 91 eastbound, and intersecting ramps for SR 91 westbound near the Santa Ana River.[2]

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 route, with its own off- and on-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.[3][4]

SR 55 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System[5] and the National Highway System,[4] a network of roadways important to the country's economy, defense, and mobility.[6] 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.[7]


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,[8] following Newport Road (today Newport Boulevard) northeast to Tustin, and then Tustin Avenue north to near its current terminus at SR 91.[9] 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.[8] The freeway portion from Chapman Avenue to SR 91 opened on January 18, 1962, at a cost of $4.6 million (about $75.1 million today).[10] The segment between SR 73 and Chapman Avenue opened in 1966.[4]

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;[4] plans to extend SR 55 freeway south from 19th Street to State Route 1 were never realized[11] due to community opposition, fueling an amendment to the city charter to prevent this extension.[12]

In 1995, the direct carpool lane ramps between I-5 and SR 55 were completed; these were the first in Orange County.[4] 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.[13] 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.[11] 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.[14]

SR 55 was formerly called the Newport Freeway.[15] In 2010, the stretch between Chapman and Katella avenues in the City of Orange was renamed the Paul Johnson Freeway for longtime local radio television traffic reporter Paul Johnson, who died the same year.[16]

Major intersections

The entire route is in Orange County.
Location mi[17] km Exit[17] Destinations Notes
Newport Beach   Newport Boulevard south Continuation beyond Finley Avenue
0.00 0.00 Finley Avenue Southern terminus of SR 55
0.27 0.43 1 SR 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) – Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Long Beach Interchange
Costa Mesa 1.87 3.01 Newport Boulevard north South end of freeway; northbound exit and southbound entrance
2.77 4.46 3 Victoria Street, 22nd Street
4.02 6.47 4 Del Mar Avenue, Fair Drive
4.74 7.63 5A SR 73 north (Corona del Mar Freeway) to I‑405 north (San Diego Freeway) – Long Beach Northbound exit and southbound entrance
SR 73 south (Corona del Mar Freeway) – San Diego via toll road
5B Baker Street
5.99 9.64 6A I‑405 north (San Diego Freeway) – Long Beach Southbound exit and northbound entrance; I-405 exit 9A
6B I‑405 south (San Diego Freeway) – San Diego, John Wayne Airport Signed as exit 6 northbound; I-405 exit 9A
Santa Ana 6.99 11.25 7 MacArthur Boulevard, Main Street
7.85 12.63 8 Dyer Road Signed as exits 8A (east) and 8B (west) southbound
9.44 15.19 9 Edinger Avenue
Tustin 9.96 16.03 10A McFadden Avenue – Tustin Signed as exit 10 southbound
I‑5 north – Santa Ana HOV access only; northbound exit and southbound entrance
10B I‑5 north (Santa Ana Freeway) – Santa Ana Northbound exit and southbound entrance; I-5 south exit 103, north exit 103A.
10.98 17.67 11A I‑5 south (Santa Ana Freeway) – San Diego I-5 south exit 103, north exit 103B.
11B 4th Street, Irvine Boulevard
11.79 18.97 12 17th Street – Tustin, Santa Ana Signed as exits 12A (east) and 12B (west) southbound
12.97 20.87 13 SR 22 west (Garden Grove Freeway) – Long Beach SR 22 exits 17B-C
13.70 22.05 14 Chapman Avenue (CR S25 east) – Orange Signed as exits 14A (east) and 14B (west) northbound
Orange 15.24 24.53 15 Katella Avenue (CR S18 south) – Villa Park
16.98 27.33 17 Lincoln Avenue, Nohl Ranch Road
Anaheim 17.83 28.69 18A SR 91 west (Riverside Freeway) – Los Angeles SR 91 exit 34
SR 91 east (91 Express Lanes) Northbound left exit and southbound left entrance
18B 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


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  13. ^ OCTA Completed Freeway Projects
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