I-5 Freeway Project Gets Cracking in South O.C.
Transportation, community and business leaders gather for groundbreaking in Capistrano
ORANGE – The sharp crack of a whip Wednesday signaled the start of freeway construction that will add carpool lanes between San Juan Creek Road and Avenida Pico.
More than 100 transportation, community and business leaders gathered to celebrate the start of construction for the $249 million I-5 South Improvement Project. In addition to adding the carpool lane in both directions between San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, the project will rebuild the Avenida Pico interchange in San Clemente.
“I am pleased to see this much-anticipated project get under way and am looking forward to it bringing much-needed congestion relief to all who travel on the I-5 through south Orange County,” said OCTA Director Pat Bates, also the Fifth District Supervisor. “This is the first of several Measure M projects planned in coming years that will allow our residents to spend less time in their cars and more time doing all that they enjoy.”
In another nod to Capistrano’s western heritage, the ceremony ended with champion bullwhip artist Leslie Leone “whipping traffic congestion” by splitting a banner held by officials with her whip.
The stretch of the I-5 in Orange County’s most southern reaches is notorious for weekend traffic jams, as well as regular rush-hour bottlenecks. The project now under construction will alleviate the back-ups by ensuring a continuous number of lanes – four general purpose and one carpool – in each direction, eliminating the need for vehicles to merge.
“The extension of the I-5 HOV lane farther into South Orange County will offer additional transportation alternatives for transit and ridesharing and will maximize people movement in this corridor,” said Caltrans District 12 Director Ryan Chamberlain.
At Avenida Pico, the freeway will be widened from four lanes in each direction to five, and Avenida Pico beneath the freeway will be widened from five lanes to nine. The northbound on-ramp also will be widened from two lanes to three. The project also will create bicycle lanes along Pico – a key safety addition with San Clemente High School and other campuses in the area.
The project, a partnership between the Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans, is being funded by Measure M, a half-cent sales tax that was approved by Orange County voters in 2006, as well as state and local funds.
For more information, see www.octa.net/I-5Pico.
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