Orange County transportation officials appear to have settled on a compromise to solve South County traffic jams on the San Diego (5) Freeway without extending the 241 toll road, Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said Tuesday.
A proposed 241 extension has drawn a great deal of opposition from residents over the years, prompting Bartlett, who is also a member of the Transportation Corridor Agency board, to help craft a compromise.
“I frankly didn’t like any of the alternatives,” Bartlett told City News Service. “I didn’t think it was feasible to cut through neighborhoods in the community. I don’t think it enhances public safety or mobility. We had no other alternative… so I literally sat down with our public works director (to create one).”
The plan is to extend Los Patrones Parkway 4.1 miles from Cow Camp Road to Avenida La Pata in San Clemente and the Rancho Mission Viejo area.
The compromise will be first considered by the Transportation Corridor Agency board on March 12, and then go on to the Orange County Transportation Authority and the Orange County Board of Supervisors for final approval, Bartlett said.
The compromise would end years of skirmishing over various plans to alleviate heavy traffic on the 5 Freeway in the south county. TCA officials settled with environmentalists five years ago, but then came conflicts and litigation with San Clemente officials who objected to an extension of the 241 toll road.
“We knew we had to create a solution, but nobody was coming up with a solution,” Bartlett said. “I said I will figure this out, so I literally sat down with public works and said I want to go from Cow Camp Road and we literally had one path to do that.”
The road had to avoid the environmentally sensitive areas that had generated opposition from environmental activists.
“We were able to do that so we’ve got everybody on board and everybody is excited about it,” Bartlett said.
“It gives everybody reassurance we’re not plowing through neighborhoods and the environmentally sensitive areas,” Bartlett said.
Transportation officials are also considering two other projects as part of the overall solution. One is construction of a high-occupancy vehicle lane between Avenida Pico and the San Diego County line on the 5 Freeway and completing the widening of Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano.
“As the county’s transportation planning agency, we are very happy to be instrumental in finding a three-project solution that finally puts to rest an issue that has been so divisive for so long,” Orange County Transportation Authority Chief Executive Officer Darrell Johnson said.
“We will look to speed up the I-5 and Ortega Highway projects, that together with the Los Patrones extension, will benefit everyone who lives, works and travels through South County,” he added.
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