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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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OC Board of Supervisors and Rancho Mission Viejo Seem to be Planning for Life Without the 241 Tesoro Extension

It looks as though Orange County and Rancho Mission Viejo are ready to move forward with the alternative road plan, and appear to be concluding that the Tesoro Extension of the 241 will not be built.  Back in April, we wrote in this article about how the 241 to the 5 connector was likely dead, but that the Transportation Corridor Agency was refocusing on the the Tesoro Extension that would connect the 241 from its current terminus at Oso Parkway to the soon to be built Cow Camp Road.  Although the Tesoro Extension is not, legally speaking, dead as a door nail — it is close.  A decision on the TCA’s appeal of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board’s denial of a permit is due later this year, but in the meantime, the parties are prepared to proceed with an alternative to the 241 Tesoro Extension.

Almost a year ago, in this article, we pointed out that the 241 was not a necessary condition to the build out of the Ranch Plan.  An alternative, called “F Street” existed.  In that article, we wrote:

South Orange County desperately needs additional north/south highways and arterials.  (It also needs east/west arterials, but that’s another subject.)  The 241 would have filled that north/south need, even if built in segments as proposed.  Freeways (or toll roads) are superior to surface streets for the simple reason that they move more vehicles, more quickly.  That being said, the 241 is a complement to, but not a substitute for, the northbound 5.  A freeway would have been nice, but it is not necessary.  As a result, that north/south function can be filled by a high capacity public roadway.  As you can see from the image below, the Ranch Plan was approved for both scenarios in which the 241 was built and in which it wasn’t.  (Click here for a high resolution version.)

Ranch Plan Roads with and without the 241 Extension

The “new” north/south roadway that would replace the 241 is currently called “F” Street, and it would nearly mirror the proposed route of the 241.

But first, let’s review a little Ranch Plan history.

Back in 2004, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the Ranch Plan, including an amendment to the County’s master road plan recognizing that if the 241 was not extended through Planning Area 2 and there was a need for a roadway there, an arterial roadway referred to as “F” Street would be built connecting Oso Parkway to Cow Camp Road.  That’s essentially what is conveyed in the “Project Buildout Roadway System” graphic above.  There is also a requirement that Rancho Mission Viejo reach an agreement with the TCA regarding the costs and responsibilities of building that road (whether it be the 241 or F Street).    This is because the TCA has powers of eminent domain and may acquire the land required for construction of the Tesoro Extension by condemnation.  In lieu of exercising those rights, Rancho Mission Viejo and TCA entered into an Option Agreement that was finalized in June of this year.   The Option Agreement gives the TCA the ability to acquire the land for the Tesoro Extension under certain circumstances.  In the absence of TCA’s excercise of the option, Rancho Mission Viejo will construct F Street (and is entitled to certain fee credits for doing so).

Although a definitive alignment is subject to approval of final tract maps, we have a general idea where F Street will run.   In addition, we know that F Street will be built in two phases.  The first phase will extend from Cow Camp Road to a point just south of A Street.  The second phase will extend from A Street to Oso Parkway.  As you know, Rancho Mission Viejo has already started grading the southern portion of Planning Area 2, and this grading includes phase one of the F Street roadway connection.  When complete, F Street will include an A Street overcrossing.

Below is a preliminary map of F Street in three sheets, running north from Cow Camp Road to Oso Parkway.

And here’s the F Street scenario graphic alone, this time highlighting the two-phases of F Street construction:

While the 241 Tesoro Extension is not officially dead, it seems as though Orange County and Rancho Mission Viejo is preparing to move forward with the F Street alternative, likely signaling some collective doubt that the Tesoro Extension will ever be built.

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