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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

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The Sun Came Out and the Cars Kept Moving

Like clockwork, as soon as the calendar flipped over to June, with it arrived the gloom.  It was overcast, drizzly and dreary all weekend.  Perhaps that was metaphorically appropriate.  Was it the calendar or the Ortega bridge lane reduction that brought June gloom upon us?

As readers know, crews closed the southern half of the Ortega Highway bridge over I-5 on Saturday night, reducing the number of lanes on this busy road to two in each direction.  Sunday morning, like groundhogs on their namesake day, San Juan residents poked their heads outside to survey the aftermath of Carmageddon, now in full swing.  Today, commuters arrived on the scene. What did they see beneath the cloudy June sky?

Three times today we visited the vicinity of the Ortega bridge.  The southbound 5 exit at Ortega Highway was backed up for a quarter mile onto the freeway, but the southbound Junipero Serra Road exit was a breeze.  It seems that our freeway driving friends were not fully aware of what happened this weekend and drove straight into the teeth of construction.  The days and months ahead should see more traffic diverted onto the detours.   Rancho Viejo Road heading south was largely empty.  Northbound Rancho Viejo was noticeably busier than usual but was flowing freely.  This reinforced the notion above that locals were prepared for the bridge lane reduction and were making use of the detours, while commuters arriving from points north — not so much.

The intersection at Ortega and Rancho Viejo was heavily congested — we spent an extra traffic light cycle waiting to get through this morning.  La Novia seemed unaffected.  San Juan Creek was busy, but we passed through during peak school drop-off hours, so the jury is still out on that one.  The Camino Capistrano interchange and the San Juan underpass was not at all congested, leading us to similarly conclude that northbound commuters may have been making the same mistake, unaware of the need to avoid Ortega.

On the west side of town, Camino Capistrano was heavy at the usual times through downtown, perhaps a little more so.  But Camino Capistrano north of the Mission was unaffected, all the way to JSerra and the 5.  The intersection at Del Obispo and Camino Cap was crowded, but when is it not?

Indeed, today’s weather was a perfect metaphor for our “new normal” in San Juan Capistrano.  What began as a dreary and gloomy morning evolved into a typical beautiful southern California summer day.  The haze lifted, the sun came out and the cars kept moving.

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