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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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Carmageddon, The Sequel: Avenida Pico Construction Begins This Weekend

Just when you had figured out how to maneuver the various lane reductions and freeway closures in and around the Ortega Highway/I-5 interchange, comes now the Avenida Pico improvement project.  Construction begins this weekend on $249 million project, officially titled the I-5 South County Improvement Project, to rebuild the Avenida Pico interchange in San Clemente and to add a carpool lane to the I-5 through South County.  The full OCTA press release is available below.  More project information is available here.

Construction Begins on I-5 South County Improvements

Ramp closures start Sunday night and continue nightly through Thursday

ORANGE – Drivers will see construction activity ramping up on the San Diego (I-5) Freeway in South Orange County as crews begin work on a $249-million traffic-relief project.

Beginning Sunday night, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., the on- and off-ramps in both directions will be closed at Pacific Coast Highway and Camino Las Ramblas. Closures to different ramps at different times will occur during the overall work window. In addition, a stretch of PCH/Camino Las Ramblas underneath I-5 will be closed in both directions. Detours will be in place.

For a map and detailed list of closures and detours and to sign up for construction alerts go to:

The I-5 South County Improvement Project will add a carpool lane in both directions between San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, as well as rebuild the Avenida Pico interchange in San Clemente.

The project will take three years from its start at San Juan Creek Road to its completion at Avenida Pico. The improvements are funded by Measure M, the half-cent sales tax that was approved by voters in 2006, as well as state and local funds.

The goal of the project is to improve the weekend traffic jams and regular rush-hour bottlenecks that plague the southern edge of Orange County, which has no other freeway. The project 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.

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 onramp will also be widened from two lanes to three. The project also will create bicycle lanes beneath the freeway along Pico – a key safety addition with San Clemente High School and other campuses in the area.

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