Some preliminary work has begun on an $86 million Ortega Highway interchange project that is expected to take two years to complete and is forecast to cause some delays for commuters who travel the mountainous road to Interstate 5 in Orange County.
The two-year project, expected to officially get underway in February in San Juan Capistrano, calls for construction of a new Ortega Highway/I-5 Freeway interchange along with reconstruction of the existing Ortega Highway bridge over the I-5. As part of the project, widening of existing freeway on- and off-ramps is also planned, as well as construction of a new northbound I-5 loop on-ramp from eastbound Ortega Highway. Realignment of Ortega Highway to the west of the I-5 interchange is also scheduled.
According to City of San Juan Capistrano documents, the Ortega Highway interchange provides a very low level of service for commuters.
“The interchange currently operates under heavy delays during peak travel hours. Heavy traffic volumes and short intersection spacing create severe congestion during morning and afternoon commute hours,” a city report states.
In preparation for next year’s construction, late last month Caltrans took possession of a Jack in the Box restaurant and a Chevron service station at the corner of Ortega Highway and Del Obispo Street, near the I-5, and immediately fenced them off.
“The Ortega Highway Interchange Improvement Project, initiated by Caltrans, OCTA and the City of San Juan Capistrano, is the solution to the ‘choke point,’ where significant delay and congestion occur along the Ortega Highway (SR-74) at the San Diego Freeway (I-5) interchange,” the Caltrans website states.
To keep up with the project and the anticipated nighttime closures at the 5 Freeway, visit www.facebook.com/ortegainterchangeproject.
See attached PDF for answers to frequently asked questions on the project.