A rock slide on the Ortega (74) Highway just west of Lake Elsinore prompted a partial closure of the two-lane corridor, causing major traffic disruptions Wednesday.

“It’s a nightmare for people commuting on that route,” Caltrans District 8 spokeswoman Terri Kasinga told City News Service Wednesday afternoon. “We don’t have an estimate yet on when both lanes will be open. There could be a complete closure during the repairs.”

The slide happened about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday below the Lookout Point, roughly five miles west of Lake Elsinore, according to the California Highway Patrol, which closed the westbound lane because of a boulder and other debris in the roadway.

Kasinga said a drainage ditch about 150 feet up a hillside gave way, most likely during powerful February storms, and since that time, water has been seeping down the slope, loosening sediment and rocks.

One-way traffic flagging is in effect on the highway to get around the obstructions. East- and westbound motorists are being escorted at intervals, meaning long queues on the 30-mile artery which connects Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano, according to Kasinga.

She said Caltrans is in the process of hiring a contractor to fix the drainage ditch, re-enforce the hillside and repair any damage to the roadway surface.

The agency on Thursday should have more information on when the work will get underway and the duration.

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