Both sides of the Ortega (74) Highway between Lake Elsinore and the Orange County line will be shut down on weeknights until further notice, beginning Monday evening, to facilitate work on the two-lane corridor.
The closure will start at 10 p.m. and continue until 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, according to Caltrans.
Motorists — and residents along pockets of the Ortega — were advised to prepare well in advance because access to large segments of the 17-mile artery will be inaccessible, with no exceptions.
Any motorists trying to access the route between the Orange County border and Monte Vista Street west of Lake Elsinore will be turned around by the California Highway Patrol.
Additionally, weekend closures are planned Aug. 13-16 and Aug. 27-30, during the same hours. The shutdowns are necessary to enable crews to complete excavation work, removing and replacing slabs without interruption, Caltrans officials said.
The $49 million Ortega Widening Project began in February. In late April, the contractor, Watsonville-based Granite Construction, initiated a series of modifications that required nighttime closures on the corridor.
Caltrans spokeswoman Kim Cherry emphasized that during the nightly closures, the Ortega Highway is not available as a connector between Riverside and Orange counties.
Motorists trying to travel from one county to the other are advised to use Interstates 5 and 15, as well as state Routes 55 and 91, as alternates.
Additionally, crews will also be conducting roadway excavation and vegetation removal nightly from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and pilot vehicles will be available to guide motorists through the construction zone, Caltrans officials said.
There may also be daytime work, and when crews are on the highway, one-way flagging operations will be in effect, meaning only a single lane will be available, generally between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Travel delays can be significant, according to Caltrans.
The widening project entails a multi-stage effort intended to enhance safety along the east-west corridor.
Most of the work is focused on expanding existing lanes to 12 feet, as well as expanding shoulders on both sides to 4 feet.
Crews are also installing in-ground rumble strips for the highway centerline and shoulders.
The upgrades are concentrated within a roughly 10-mile stretch.
The project is slated for completion in early 2025.
More information is available at dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-8.