The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) on April 23 voted to fund the first phase of the $1.03-billion Interstate 405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project, adding a northbound 10-mile-long carpool lane, between I-10 and U.S. 101, to one of the region’s most congested freeways. The freeway connects the San Fernando Valley with the greater Los Angeles area. The project is a joint venture between Metro and Caltrans. Kiewet Pacific Co., Santa Fe Springs, Calif., was awarded a $712-million design-build contract. The project will be built in phases based upon funding availability. About $372 million already has been secured, including $200 million of federal stimulus funds that is contingent upon construction starting this year. The remaining $662 million will come from state bonds. Work could be completed within four and a half years, creating 18,000 local construction jobs, says Metro spokesman Rick Jager. “This project will have a daily average of 300,000 commuters inspecting the work,” says K.N. Murthy, Metro deputy chief.