The Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans broke ground on an I-5 freeway construction project that will improve traffic flow on 6.5 miles of freeway between SR-73 and El Toro Road in south Orange County.
Transportation and community leaders gathered in Mission Viejo overlooking Interstate 5 to commemorate the beginning of construction on the $581 million project that will add a regular lane in each direction, extend a second carpool lane between Alicia Parkway and El Toro Road, and improve interchanges and streets.
“I’m excited to see this highly anticipated project get under way and I’m looking forward to it bringing much-needed congestion relief to all those who travel on the I-5 through South County,” said OCTA Chairman Tim Shaw, also a La Habra Councilman. “This will allow Orange County residents and workers to spend less time in their cars and more time doing the important things in life.”
Approximately 360,000 cars travel through that stretch of freeway, which runs near the cities of Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest and San Juan Capistrano.
The improvement project is largely funded by Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, also known as OC Go. Other funding is coming from a mix of state and federal funds.
“This is one more example of OCTA delivering on our promises to voters when they approved Measure M and entrusted us with their tax dollars,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson. “With last year’s completion of freeway improvements between San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, this is the next step in ensuring OCTA meets the transportation needs of all those who live, work and visit South Orange County.”
The project is scheduled to be complete in 2025.
“The I-5 South County Improvement – SR-73 to El Toro Road project demonstrates the strength of the partnership between Caltrans and the Orange County Transportation Authority,” said Caltrans District 12 Director Ryan Chamberlain. “We look forward to continuing our cooperation to further improve the Orange County state highway transportation system for the more than 3 million residents of Orange County through future projects.”
The project will be built in three segments, the first segment to be built by contractor Flatiron West. HDR Engineering is providing construction management.
Several streets that intersect the freeway also will be improved and widened, as well as ramps that enter and exit the freeway. Those major intersection improvements include La Paz Road in Mission Viejo and Laguna Hills, and Avery Parkway in Mission Viejo and Laguna Niguel. The overpass at Los Alisos Boulevard in Lake Forest and Laguna Hills also will be widened.
Newly constructed retaining walls will include designs reflecting the ranching heritage of the local communities.