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South County’s Transportation Future Solidified Through Agencies’ Joint Agreement

OCTA, County of Orange and City of San Clemente reaffirm commitment to transportation solutions that minimize community impacts

ORANGE COUNTY, CA – The Orange County Transportation Authority, County of Orange and City of San Clemente all recently approved a Cooperative Agreement to support a trio of south Orange County transportation projects that will meet near-term congestion relief needs while minimizing impacts on local communities.

This Cooperative Agreement follows more than two decades of discussions regarding the proposed toll road extension through protected open space in both San Mateo State Park, near San Onofre State Beach and the City of San Clemente. Significant efforts to finally resolve the issue emerged in the past two years with the involvement and leadership of Senator Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, OCTA, City of San Clemente and County of Orange.

“Being able to bring key players to the table and create a blueprint for addressing community concerns and developing local solutions to improve mobility in South County, is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Orange County Supervisor and OCTA Director, Lisa Bartlett, who led the collaborative effort to find an agreement. “Residents can rest easy knowing what the future holds for transportation projects and planning efforts in the City of San Clemente’s backyard and throughout the region.”

“For decades, residents in San Clemente have spoken loud and clear about the importance of preserving our open space and protecting the character of our community,” said San Clemente Mayor Kathy Ward. “Thanks to this agreement, we can finally focus on common-sense traffic solutions to ensure our City and our neighboring cities remain desirable places to live, work and visit.”

“I am heartened to see the spirit of cooperation in Orange County that has allowed transportation leaders to come together to address the environmental concerns of residents and local businesses, and create an agreement for the future of mobility in South Orange County,” said Senator Pat Bates. “Therefore, I am happy to withdraw Senate Bills 760 and 761, which were the impetus for regional leaders to come together to author this cooperative agreement.”

As previously approved, the near-term projects spelled out in the Cooperative Agreement to improve South County mobility include:

  • Construction of the Los Patrones Parkway Extension as a non-tolled county arterial from its current terminus at Cow Camp Road to Avenida La Pata in San Clemente
  • OCTA’s and Caltrans’ efforts to complete high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane improvements on Interstate 5 between Avenida Pico and the San Diego County Line
  • The Ortega Highway (SR-74) widening in San Juan Capistrano from two lanes to four lanes between Calle Entradero and the city/county border

OCTA, Transportation Corridor Agencies, and Caltrans agreed on those three projects in March 2020, in lieu of extending the SR-241 Toll Road. The approach supports protection of previously approved conservation easements and protected lands within San Clemente, is consistent with OCTA’s commitment to follow a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive planning process that provides all partner agencies and stakeholders opportunities to engage and provide input.

Reaffirming the commitment to those projects, the Cooperative Agreement was approved by OCTA on Oct. 11 and by the County and City at their meetings on Oct. 5. In part, the agreement states the County of Orange and OCTA “will not build, support or authorize a new major thoroughfare in the City in an area that is subject to a conservation easement or is protected as open space under a local initiative.”

Additionally, the agencies agreed that OCTA, as the state-designated County Transportation Commission, will work with stakeholders to plan any necessary long-term improvements.

OCTA is currently underway on its South Orange County Multimodal Transportation Study that is looking at a wide range of transportation needs and solutions over the next 25 years, including improvements to streets, bus and other transit options, highways and bikeways. This study, expected to be finished in spring 2022, includes participation of key stakeholders and follows on a similar study that was done in 2008, which resulted in a more than $1.5 billion investment in south county transportation projects and services. In addition, OCTA is working on the 2022 Long Range Transportation Plan, developed every four years and expected to be complete fall 2022, which serves as the vision for Orange County’s future transportation needs.

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