1. Ortega Construction: The Squeeze Is On
San Juan Capistrano Patch
On Thursday, Aug. 29, crews will restripe the southbound I-5 off-ramp to Ortega Highway from two lanes to one lane. This configuration will last for several months and is necessary to reconstruct the off-ramp and perform other construction activities in the area, according to Caltrans.
2. Cow Camp Road to provide Ortega Highway alternative
A four-mile road designed to divert residents of Rancho Mission Viejo from Ortega Highway is in the first phase of construction.
When it is finished sometime in the next three decades, Cow Camp Road will span six lanes, wider than the small but well-traveled state highway, and run from the new Sendero community east to connect with Ortega near the southern edge of Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park.
Rancho Mission Viejo LLC, which is building Cow Camp Road in partnership with the county, does not have a timeline for the road's completion but is constructing it in phases, in sync with the build-out of its massive new community, which is to be fully developed in the next 25 years or so.
Crews are grading the first leg of Cow Camp Road just as residents are about to move into Sendero, the first community in a planned 14,000-home project east of San Juan Capistrano. This section of the road will open in mid 2015 as a two-lane street that extends less than 11/2 miles east from Antonio Parkway and parallel to Ortega, and reach the second planned community, dubbed “Planning Area 2” for now.
The first leg is scheduled for completion by the time Rancho Mission Viejo opens this second community. There are more than 1,200 homes in the first community, Sendero, some of which have begun selling. Residents are expected to begin moving in next month.
At rush hour, Ortega is clogged with commuters winding their way into Orange County from as far as San Jacinto, and San Juan Capistrano residents who live along the route fear Rancho Mission Viejo will make it harder to enter and exit their neighborhoods. Some are hopeful Cow Camp will relieve the pressure, but they are also skeptical the connection to Ortega will happen soon enough.
“How many years is that going to take?” said San Juan Capistrano resident Patrick Pearson, who has lived on the south side of the highway for 26 years.
“Traffic is horrible now, and there is no one living out there.”
A 2004 environmental report projected 67 percent of Cow Camp Road traffic will be from Rancho Mission Viejo residents. The remaining 33 percent would be Riverside-area commuters and San Juan Capistrano residents traveling to Antonio Parkway, or to I-5 via Crown Valley or Oso parkways, or to the 241 toll road, if it is extended.
That is expected to bring some relief to the I-5/Ortega interchange, a choke point that is being widened. Still, “the future of Ortega is more traffic,” Caltrans spokesman David Richardson said.
As new phases of the Rancho Mission Viejo project begin, the developer will provide updated traffic estimates.
A March report prepared in advance of Planning Area 2's launch forecast delays at several intersections along Crown Valley Parkway in Mission Viejo, including at the northbound on-ramp to I-5. But Public Works Director Mark Chagnon said city officials are comfortable there will be enough capacity thanks to recent widening projects.
Ranch officials estimate they have spent $22 million so far to improve streets in the region, including work on Ortega, Antonio, Crown Valley and Oso. Under a regional plan by the county, it is committed to spending an additional $120 million. Cow Camp Road is part of that plan.
It will cost $45.2 million for Phases 1A and 1B, and Rancho Mission Viejo officials say they are still looking for sources to cover about one-fifth of the cost. Here's what has been committed so far:
$8.3 million from Measure M2, the countywide half cent sales tax for transportation improvements
$6 million in Mello-Roos taxes from Sendero residents
$21.4 million in Mello-Roos taxes from residents of Planning Area 2
Source: County of Orange and Rancho Mission Viejo
When Rancho Mission Viejo's "Planning Area 2" comes online, its residents are forecast to take 47,834 daily car trips, worsening traffic at eight intersections in nearby communities. Still, an analysis done by a consultant hired by Rancho Mission Viejo found that with recent and planned improvements, there is enough road capacity to keep the intersections operating sufficiently. Expect more traffic at these intersections:
Morning traffic, Puerta Real at Crown Valley Parkway, from level of service A to B
Afternoon traffic, Medical Center at Crown Valley, from A to B
Afternoon traffic, I-5 northbound ramps at Crown Valley, from B to C
Rancho Santa Margarita
Morning traffic, Tesoro Creek Road at Oso Parkway, from A to B
San Juan Capistrano
Morning traffic, Rancho Viejo Road at Ortega Highway, from A to B
Morning traffic, La Novia Road at Ortega, from A to B
Afternoon traffic, Antonio Parkway at Crown Valley, from C to D
Morning and afternoon traffic, Antonio at Cow Camp Road, from A to D and from A to C
Note: Level of service D is considered acceptable by the county. Source: Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.
San Juan Capistrano Patch
317 days ago, on October 10, 2012, the City Council and the Transportation Commission met with the OCTA in a special session to tackle the Ghost Train issue.