A sinkhole prompted the complete closure Wednesday of Ortega (74) Highway between Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano, and transportation officials estimated repairs could take three weeks, during which time no travel will be permitted along the route.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the hard closure went into effect about 3 p.m. after Caltrans declared the corridor unsafe due to the compromised condition of the roadway.
“The CHP urges motorists to plan ahead and select alternate routes of travel, and to allow for additional travel times,” said spokesman Ray Scheidnes. “The CHP will remain on-site at the closure location to help ensure the safety of motorists.”
Authorities did not specify where the hole developed, saying only that crews were sent to check it out after several motorists reported “sinking” concrete. The area was inundated with rainfall during the recent storm series.
The roughly 28-mile artery was closed at Antonio Parkway on the Orange County side and at Grand Avenue on the Riverside County side. However, Caltrans apparently did not have electronic message signs with closure warnings activated in Lake Elsinore until about 5 p.m., causing a major traffic jam in the city as westbound motorists had to turn around.
Scheidnes said residents who live on roads connected to the Ortega will be permitted to go around barricades and use the highway — but not in the vicinity of the damaged roadway.
Caltrans said crews may not need the entire three weeks to finish repairs, but that was the best guess at this point.
–City News Service
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