Octa's transportation blog

South County Transportation Improvements Move Forward

OCTA continues to address south Orange County’s transportation needs with a long-term study and near-term projects as the area continues to grow and travel patterns evolve.

Three projects that form the cornerstone of an agreement among OCTA, Caltrans and TCA to improve mobility in south Orange County include:

  • Widening Ortega Highway along a 1.1-mile pinch point
  • Extending the I-5 carpool lanes from Avenida Pico to the border with San Diego County
  • Extending Los Patrones Parkway as a non-tolled county street three miles to Avenida La Pata

“We are proud to lead the way on planning and funding projects that deliver tangible benefits to the community while keeping pace with housing and employment growth,” said OCTA Chairman Andrew Do, also the county’s First District Supervisor. “We will continue to work with residents and stakeholders on transportation solutions to improve the lives of all who live, work and visit south Orange County.”  

Ortega Highway

OCTA approved an agreement with San Juan Capistrano to provide $5.25 million in OC Go funding for the preparation of plans, specifications and estimates to widen the portion of Ortega Highway.

That stretch of Ortega Highway is currently one lane in each direction between Calle Entradero and Reata Road, and a notorious choke point for traffic near the eastern end of San Juan Capistrano. The project calls widening it from one lane to two lanes in each direction.

OCTA is working on a funding agreement for the Ortega Highway project, which could open by 2028, with funding contributions from the County of Orange, San Juan Capistrano, the state and OCTA.

Los Patrones Parkway

A conceptual alignment of the non-tolled extension to Los Patrones Parkway has been added to the county’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways and general plans of the city and county.

As part of the Comprehensive Transportation Funding Program, OCTA awarded more than $1.8 million to help build the extension.

The preliminary engineering phase is expected to begin as early as this fall.

HOV Lanes from Pico to County Line

OCTA recently awarded a contract to prepare environmental documents for extending the carpool lanes in each direction between Avenida Pico and the border with San Diego County.

This improvement would build on the six miles of carpool lane opened in 2018 in each direction of I-5 through the cities of San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente.

The environmental phase is expected to be completed by early 2024. OCTA is planning extensive public outreach with residents of San Clemente and other stakeholders.

South County Study

In addition to the three planned projects, OCTA continues work on longer-term solutions through the South Orange County Multimodal Transportation Study, now in the second of three phases.

OCTA is compiling and analyzing input and is planning a roundtable discussion with elected area leaders and other stakeholders later this year. Those efforts will help refine locally preferred alternatives for regional transportation.

Learn more about the study here and click on the “stay connected” tab to sign up for updates.