I-5 Improvement Project (San Diego County Line to Avenida Pico)


To view additional project information, please view Orange County Transportation Authority's (OCTA) website here.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in cooperation with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), proposes improvements to increase person and vehicle throughput on Interstate 5 between the San Diego County Line  and the Avenida Pico Interchange in the city of San Clemente and unincorporated San Diego County.

The I-5 Improvement Project proposes to increase person and vehicle throughput on I-5 between the San Diego County Line (11-SD-5, PM 71.0) and the I-5/Avenida Pico Interchange (12-ORA-5, PM 3.4) in the city of San Clemente and unincorporated San Diego County. The Proposed Project would add a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane in both directions along this 3.5 mile stretch of I-5.

Project location map


Caltrans is initiating the Project Approval and Environmental Document (PA&ED) Phase through the scoping process. A key component of scoping is public engagement. The scoping period is between June 30, 2022 – August 15, 2022

Caltrans is the Lead Agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Caltrans is preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pursuant to CEQA and an Environmental Assessment (EA) pursuant to NEPA.

Proposed Alternatives

Based on conceptual analysis, two alternatives are proposed for consideration. The preliminary alternatives under consideration include one No Build and one Build Alternative.

Alternative No. 1 (No Build):

The No Build Alternative proposes no improvements to I‑5, maintaining the existing four general-purpose lanes throughout the Project limits in the northbound and southbound directions. The freeway facility would remain as is, with the exception of other proposed projects that are either under development or currently under construction.

Alternative No. 2 (Build Alternative):

Alternative 2 proposes to add an HOV lane on I-5 in the northbound and southbound directions within the project limits. The new HOV lane would connect to the existing HOV facility to the north of the project study area and extend south to the San Diego County/Orange County Line. The existing southbound inside general-purpose lane would be converted to an HOV lane between Avenida Pico and Avenida Presidio, the proposed southbound HOV lane would require outside widening to reestablish the fourth general purpose lane between Avenida Presidio and the San Diego County/Orange County Line, where the southbound HOV lane would become the inside general-purpose lane, and the outside general-purpose lane would transition to an auxiliary lane and ending south of the southbound Cristianitos Road exit ramp at the County Line. In the northbound direction, I­‑5 is proposed to be widened to the outside to accommodate the additional HOV lane. The additional HOV lane will tie into the existing HOV lane at Avenida Pico. To accommodate the freeway widening, the widening or replacement of several bridges would be required.

The Build Alternative would implement ramp improvements where feasible and auxiliary lanes throughout the corridor and would include Transportation Systems Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) features.

Public Scoping Meeting

Caltrans has hosted two public scoping meetings – one in-person meeting and one virtual meeting. The purpose of the scoping meetings is to provide information to agencies and the public regarding the proposed project and to obtain feedback on the scope and content that should be addressed in the environmental document.

In-Person Scoping Meeting

Location: Triton Center, San Clemente High School

Date: July 28, 2022

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm


Virtual Scoping Meeting

Location: Zoom

Date: August 2, 2022

Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm


Please submit your comments no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, August 15, 2022.

All written comments submitted during the scoping period will be recorded.

Comments may be submitted during the public scoping period (June 30, 2022-August 15, 2022) in any of the following formats:

  • Project email to I-5HOVSouthCounty@dot.ca.gov with the subject line “I-5 Improvement Project from the County Line to Avenida Pico”.
  • Regular mail to Jayna Harris, Associate/Senior Environmental Planner, 20 Executive Park, Suite 200, Irvine, CA 92614
  • Court reporter during our scoping meeting


Next Steps/Milestones

Overview of project timeline figure. Figure shows that the project is currently in the beginning of the Project Approval and Environmental Document Phase with Scoping being initiated

  • Mid-2023 – Publish Draft Project Report/Environmental Document and Conduct Public Hearing
  • Late 2023 – Publish Final Project Report and Environmental Document
  • Mid-2026 – Begin Design (Plans, Specifications, and Estimates)**
  • Late 2030 - Begin Construction

**Dependent on funding availability


What is Available/Resources

1. Notice of Availability (English)

2. Notice of Availability (Spanish)

3. Notice of Preparation

4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

5. Fact Sheet

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