If you live in south Orange County, you are well aware of all the CalTrans work being done to the 5 Freeway. From the new sound barriers and retaining walls being built (right behind my house), to the constant rush hour and weekend traffic jams, many of us are wondering, “What is being improved, exactly?” and, more importantly, “When is it going to end?”
The OCTA website has some information. Here is my summary.
I-5 South County Improvements
The I-5 South County Improvement Project will add a carpool lane in both directions between San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, as well as rebuild the Avenida Pico interchange in San Clemente.
One of the objectives is to reduce traffic jams by ensuring a continuous number of lanes – four general purpose and one carpool – in each direction, which would minimize vehicle merging between lanes. At Avenida Pico, the freeway will be widened from four lanes in each direction to five, and Avenida Pico beneath the freeway will be widened from five lanes to nine. The northbound on-ramp will also be widened from two lanes to three.
According to the original project timeline (below), construction should be done by 2017.
BUT, it appears they are about 6 months behind schedule, so the new projected completion date is June, 2018.
You can read more about the South County improvements here.
I-5 / Ortega Highway Interchange Improvement Project
This project feels like it’s been going on forever, but the end may be in sight. The Ortega Highway Interchange Improvement Project is supposed to be the solution to the “choke point,” where significant traffic backups can occur on the I-5 South near the Ortega off-ramp. They are close to completing the reconstruction of the existing Ortega Highway bridge over the I-5 and the widening of the existing on and off-ramps.
Start Date: Early 2013
Original Completion Date: Spring 2015
New Completion Date: Winter 2015 (just a couple more months!)
And the fun doesn’t end there…
More sections of the 5 Freeway are expected to be reconstructed, just as these South County improvements come to a close. The I-5 SR-73 to El Toro Road Improvements are expected to add a lane to both directions of the freeway and extend the second carpool lane in each direction from El Toro Road to Alicia Parkway to increase capacity, as well as to reconstruct the Avery Parkway and La Paz Road interchanges.
The fact is that as long as people keep flocking to Orange County, OCTA will be busy expanding and reconstructing the freeways to accommodate everyone. I’m waiting for the day when they build up. Double-decker freeways, anyone?