Ortega Highway was built in the 1930s as a short cut for Inland recreational traffic to get to Orange County beaches by way of the Cleveland National Forest. It originally carried some 200 vehicles per day, from Lake Elsinore into Orange County. Traffic has grown to 12,000 vehicle trips daily.
It has a record of being hazardous to motorists. Caltrans is working on a three-mile section of narrow lanes with few turn-out areas.
Caltrans will be:
- Adding 4-foot shoulders to each side of the highway
- Adding safety enhancements to reduce road closures due to rock slides
- Placing rumble strips in the median
- Improving motorists' sight distances by removing protruding rock walls
- Widening the existing 10-footlanes to standard 12-foot lanes
- Improving drainage facilities into San Juan Creek
- Improving turn-outs and adding two new turn-outs, one in each direction
Construction started in February 2007 and will end by 2010, at a cost of $40 million.
Project is funded by the State Highway Operation Protection Program.