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OCTA Moving Ahead on South County Transportation Improvements

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May 13, 2021


Projects include widening Ortega Highway, extending Los Patrones, and adding HOV lanes near county border with San Diego County

ORANGE – The Orange County Transportation Authority continues to move forward on both a long-term study and providing near-term projects to address south Orange County’s transportation needs as the area continues to grow and travel patterns evolve.

This week, the OCTA Board of Directors received an update on progress of three projects that are the cornerstones of an agreement between OCTA, Caltrans and TCA to improve mobility in south Orange County.

Those projects include:

  • Widening Ortega Highway along a 1.1-mile pinch point
  • Extending the Interstate 5 carpool lanes from Avenida Pico to the border with San Diego County, and
  • Extending Los Patrones Parkway as a non-tolled county street three miles to Avenida La Pata.

“We are proud to lead the way on planning and funding projects that deliver tangible benefits to the community while keeping pace with housing and employment growth,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the county’s First District Supervisor. “We will continue to work with residents and stakeholders on transportation solutions to improve the lives of all who live, work and visit south Orange County.”

Ortega Highway

In addition to hearing about the progress of each of the projects, the OCTA board approved an agreement with San Juan Capistrano to provide $5.25 million in Measure M funding for the preparation of plans, specifications and estimates to widen the portion of Ortega Highway.

That stretch of Ortega Highway is currently one lane in each direction between Calle Entradero and Reata Road, and a notorious choke point for traffic near the eastern end of San Juan Capistrano. The project calls for it to be widened from one lane in each direction to two lanes in each direction.

OCTA is working on a funding agreement for the Ortega Highway project, which could open by 2028, with funding contributions from the County of Orange, San Juan Capistrano, the State and OCTA.

A funding agreement is expected to come back to the board in June. Final design, being led by Caltrans, is expected to be completed by late 2021.

Los Patrones Parkway

A conceptual alignment of the non-tolled extension to Los Patrones Parkway has been added to the county’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways and general plans of the city and county.

Also this week, as part of the Comprehensive Transportation Funding Program, the OCTA board awarded more than $1.8 million to help build the extension.

The preliminary engineering phase is expected to begin as early as this fall.

HOV Lanes from Pico to County Line

OCTA recently awarded a contract to prepare environmental documents for extending the carpool lanes in each direction between Avenida Pico and the border with San Diego County.

This improvement would build on the addition of six miles of carpool lane in each direction of I-5 that was added through the cities of San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente that opened in 2018.

The environmental phase is expected to be completed by early 2024. OCTA is planning extensive public outreach, including with residents of San Clemente and other stakeholders throughout the process.

South County Study

In addition to the three planned projects, OCTA continues work on longer-term solutions through the South Orange County Multimodal Transportation Study, which now is in the second of three phases.

OCTA staff is compiling and analyzing the results of input received so far and is planning a roundtable discussion with elected leaders from the area and other stakeholders later this year. Those efforts will help further refine what options are the locally preferred alternatives for further enhancing transportation options in the region.

For more information on that study, visit www.octa.net/southocstudy. Click on the “stay connected” tab to sign up for updates.

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