On March 29, transportation leaders and elected officials marked the completion of a $230 million improvement project that relieves traffic congestion and enhances safety for tens of thousands of daily commuters traveling Interstate 5 through San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point.
The improvement project, led by OCTA in partnership with Caltrans, adds nearly 6 miles of carpool lanes in each direction between Avenida Pico in San Clemente and San Juan Creek Road in San Juan Capistrano.
“These are much-needed improvements to a vital stretch of our highway system connecting Orange County to San Diego County,” said OCTA Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, also the Fifth District County Supervisor. “We appreciate the public’s patience during the four years of construction and I hope everybody shares our excitement to see how much this project improves the area for local residents and commuters.”
The project also improved freeway on-ramps and off-ramps, enhanced safety by improving the southbound freeway curve near Pacific Coast Highway, and reconstructed the Avenida Pico interchange.
The improvements at Avenida Pico included widening the northbound on-ramp to three lanes, adding dual left-turn lanes from Pico to the northbound and southbound freeway ramps, and enhancing bicycle and pedestrian access along Pico under the freeway.
Construction on the approximately $230 million project began in early 2014 and was completed in three phases. Funding for the project came from state funds, federal funds and Measure M (now named OC Go), Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. Less than a quarter of the way through the 30-year OC Go program, nearly half of the project segments have been completed. The I-5 South Improvement Project is the 12th project segment completed in the past seven years.
“We have a responsibility to Californians to deliver solutions that relieve congestion and improve safety on the highways that countless drivers rely on each day,” said Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Ryan Chamberlain. “The addition of carpool lanes will improve mobility and quality of life for everyone who travels along this significant highway link in Southern California.”
The stretch of the I-5 in South Orange County was identified as a priority for improvements when voters overwhelmingly supported the renewal of the sales tax, which was approved by 70 percent of voters in 2006.
This section is traveled by nearly 250,000 drivers each day and had been a notorious traffic bottleneck during rush hours and on weekends, when drivers traveled through the area to and from San Diego County.