California Department of Transportation

California Department of Transportation

Today's Date: October 1, 2015
District: 12 - Orange County
Contact: Caltrans - Yvonne Washington
Phone: (949) 724-2644
Contact: OCTA - Joel Zlotnic
Phone: (714) 560-5713


IRVINE – Today, Caltrans, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and the City of San Juan Capistrano celebrate the completion of the $77.2 million Interstate 5/Ortega Highway Interchange Improvement project, which will ease traffic congestion at a notorious bottleneck.

“This project will be good for commuters and good for the economy, as the I-5/Ortega Highway is a key route for the movement of people, goods and services throughout California,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “These improvements will provide much needed congestion relief, improving not only local traffic flow but easing regional commutes as well.”

Several design improvements were made to this major connecting interchange for Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino Counties, including reconstructing and expanding the Ortega Highway Bridge over the I-5 freeway from four to eight lanes and widening the North and South I-5 on/off ramps to improve traffic flow. The project also realigned Ortega Highway west of the I-5 through the downtown area of San Juan Capistrano, curving now into Del Obispo instead of continuing straight into Camino Capistrano and thus eliminating the need for two intersections.

“This is a project in line with our mission at OCTA to help keep Orange County moving. It helps relieve a notorious choke point for local drivers and regional commuters,” said OCTA Chairman Jeff Lalloway, also Mayor Pro Tem of Irvine. “As always, a major freeway improvement requires great teamwork and we’re pleased to have worked with Caltrans and San Juan Capistrano to have delivered a project that enhances safety and improves quality of life for the people who travel through the interchange.”
This project also highlights the “bridging of history,” reflecting San Juan Capistrano’s Spanish architectural style in colored concrete on the new bridge and hand-painted textured retaining walls. The City of San Juan Capistrano also played a key role in the project’s initiation by preparing the environmental document, from which the City Council approved the selected alternative in January 2009.

The $77.2 million project was primarily funded with $42.7 million from the State Transportation Improvement Program (derived from gas tax) and $26.9 from Proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved bond. An additional $5.6 million was provided by Measure M, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, and $1.8 million from the city of San Juan Capistrano. To date, more than $18 billion in Proposition 1B funds have been put to work statewide for transportation purposes.