Octa's transportation blog

Improvements Continue on the I-5

This article originally appeared in the Voice of OC

South Orange County residents will spend most of this year continuing to confront occasional construction-related congestion and late-night freeway segment closures along the I-5 in areas like Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills and Lake Forest.

But the end is in sight for the series of freeway construction efforts that have been ongoing since the summer of 2019.

About 6.5 miles of the I-5 Freeway – between State Route 73 and El Toro Road – will be under construction until early 2025, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority

Approximately 360,000 motorists travel daily on this section of the freeway.

The project was budgeted at $664,000 million, and has cost approximately $655 million thus far, according to Joel Zlotnik, spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Agency.

“As the project nears completion, minimal traffic delays are anticipated during nighttime ramp and freeway lane closures,” said Eric Carpenter, Orange County Transportation Authority communications specialist. 

“As with most construction projects, it is anticipated that drivers may experience periodic delays,” said Waldir Guerrero, Public Information Officer at Caltrans District 12, which includes Orange County. “We recommend motorists allocate some extra time into their travel plans to minimize potential disruptions and follow any alerts distributed by project lead OCTA on their social media.”

The project, which began in June 2019, is part of ongoing efforts to improve and widen the I-5 Freeway. 

One improvement is the addition of continuous access carpool lanes, or lanes that motorists can enter or exit freely as long as they meet requirements for use of an HOV lane. 

“Generally speaking, continuous access carpool lanes provide more flexibility to motorists, allowing them to enter and exit the lanes at their convenience, preventing the need for motorists to rush across lanes to enter or exit carpool lanes,” said Carpenter.

New northbound and southbound general purpose lanes will also be added from Avery Parkway to Alicia Parkway, and a new carpool lane will run from Alicia Parkway to El Toro Parkway, according to Carpenter.

Auxiliary lanes, or lanes connecting on-ramps and off-ramps, will also be added or modified to ease travel through interchanges and merging. Other improvements include new lighting and overhead signs, in addition to lane restriping. 

Construction is split into three segments: State Route 73 to Oso Parkway, Oso Parkway to Alicia Parkway and Alicia Parkway to El Toro Road.