A virtual grand opening was held Wednesday for the Oso Parkway Bridge Project intended to improve traffic flow and safety in South Orange County.

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who is also a member of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Agency board, said the new bridge will help get more cars off the San Diego (5) Freeway in the Rancho Santa Margarita-Mission Viejo area.

The bridge offers six lanes that lead directly to the 241 Toll Road and Los Patrones Parkway. The project also added bike lanes and a new sidewalk on the south side of Oso Parkway, which will improve pedestrian safety at Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Now “there’s direct connectivity” to the toll road and “it’s safer for the drivers and pedestrians walking on Oso Parkway, and it’s safer for the students,” Bartlett said.

“It will be tremendous because now you don’t have to stop” at Oso Parkway before getting on to the toll road, Bartlett said.

The project would “indirectly” siphon off drivers on the busy San Diego Freeway as more motorists are drawn to the toll road as a smoother option, Bartlett said.

“People will not take the 5 Freeway, knowing they can take the county arterial to get on the toll road,” Bartlett said.

Before the project, drivers had to use an off-ramp and wait at a traffic signal before accessing the toll road or Los Patrones Parkway.

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