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Are You Ready for Some Traffic?

When expansion of the I-5 interchange at Ortega Highway begins in January, expect to be making circles around town.

With a number of Caltrans projects underway and on the horizon, traffic on the streets surrounding the I-5 Freeway may see a huge uptick in traffic in the coming months and years.

That’s the take-away from a presentation Caltrans officials made to the San Juan Capistrano City Council Tuesday, which showed map after map of planned detours. The biggest of the project is the .

But no matter how you slice, no matter which on- or off-ramp is temporarily closed, the detours come down to this: You’ll be entering and exiting the freeway at either San Juan Creek or Junipero Serra roads. You’ll use either Camino Capistrano to the west, or San Juan Creek to La Novia Avenue to Ortega to Rancho Viejo Road to the east.

The project “will completely reconstruct the bridge, reconstruct the on- and off ramps and make them wider,” said Nooshin Yoosefi, Caltrans project manager.

While construction is set to begin in January, demolition of the properties Caltrans acquired to accommodate the $86.2 million expansion, will begin before the end of the road, she said. The demolition won’t require road closures.

But the actual construction will.

Most of the closures will shut down access to the bridge and ramps from midnight to 5 a.m. or 6 a.m., said  Jim Pinheiro, deputy district director for operations and maintenance at Caltrans.

The bridge over the freeway will be demolished and rebuilt one half at a time, he added, so that travelers in the day will be able to cross.

Other Caltrans projects in the city include:

  • The reconstruction of the interchange at Camino Capistrano and the San Juan Creek bridge widening – street closures there will end by September’s end
  • A current repaving of Ortega Highway, expected to be done by January
  • Slab replacement between Mission Viejo and Capo Beach, to be finished by year’s end
  • Widening of the carpool lanes between Avenida Pico in San Clemente to San Juan Creek Road – the San Juan portion will start in October 2013
  • And three other projects just outside the city

Mayor Larry Kramer admonished Caltrans to do a better job of directing detoured traffic.

“There are detour signs around the city right now. And I think if I followed them I would never get anywhere. They’re very confusing,” he said. “i think the signs I’ve seen up now are pretty poor and not helpful.”

Councilman John Taylor recommended Caltrans erect some kind of message board to communicate to the public how the project is advancing.

Tom Marantz August 23, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Hi Clint, My goal is to eliminate that "queue cutter", and get the trains to slow down sooner before they arrive at the station. I have two young children at home too, and the ghost train issue is a major annoyance and this delay costs regular people money waiting and idling. More importantly, this is a huge safety issue for response times and the queue of cars getting pushed back on Camino Capistrano and Del Obispo. It should not have taken this long to fix, and I plan to make the council more reactive to these simple issues if elected. Time to turn off those lights.
Clint Worthington August 23, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Thank you for your response. I agree with you on all points.
d August 23, 2012 at 08:45 PM
"The reconstruction of the interchange at Camino Capistrano and the San Juan Creek bridge widening – street closures there will end by September’s end" PENNY! This news has me very concerned! We travel on that bridge from Ortega/rancho viejo to get to Ambuehl. And they will be closing the bride the first month school is back in!?!? Is this correct??
d August 23, 2012 at 08:45 PM
oops not bride, bridge.... lol
Penny Arévalo August 23, 2012 at 08:49 PM
At night, yes.

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