The Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a joint agreement with the Orange County Transportation Authority and San Clemente to work on easing traffic congestion by backing three projects.
Those projects are extending Los Patrones Parkway, widening Ortega Highway in San Juan Capistrano and adding a carpool lane on the San Diego (5) Freeway from Avenido Pico to the San Diego County line.
The agreement also includes is a promise to protect San Clemente’s open space and conservation easements from future plans for a major thoroughfare.
The agreement gives the county “broad support necessary” to extend Los Patrones Parkway, according to a county staff report. San Clemente officials will keep the project in its general plan while protecting voter-approved open space and conservation easements in the city.
As part of the agreement, Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, has agreed to shelve a bill that would prohibit extending state Route 241 through San Clemente with the understanding that it could be reintroduced if Caltrans or the Orange County toll agencies begin planning another freeway through San Clemente.
The board voted 4-0 in favor of the agreement with Supervisor Doug Chaffee abstaining.
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who led the effort to put together the agreement, said the three projects represent the best ways, according to various studies, to relieve congestion in south Orange County.
“South County is unique,” Bartlett said. “We have one freeway where the 405 becomes the 5 and that’s it… In other parts of the county we have so many other options.”
Bartlett said officials of the Rancho Mission Viejo ranch community, where 14,000 homes are on the drawing board, support the agreement.
“I talked to the mayor of San Juan Capistrano (John Taylor) yesterday and he’s very comfortable with the cooperative agreement,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett said much of the opposition to the agreement was due to “inaccuracy and misinformation.”
Settling on the three projects gives officials “the certainty of regional transportation projects that will take us well into the future, probably for the next 50 years,” Bartlett said.
“These three projects are the ones virtually everyone agrees on,” Bartlett said.
The Foothill Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, which oversees south county toll roads, has not signed on to the agreement but has approved a resolution in support of the projects, Bartlett said.
Chaffee raised a number of issues about the contract’s language and was concerned there was no end date in the agreement.