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I-5 (County Line to Avenida Pico)

Public Scoping

I-5 HOV South County Project (Avenida Pico to San Diego County Line)


The I-5 Improvement Project proposes to increase person and vehicle throughput on I-5 between the San Diego County Line (11-SD-5, PM 71.0) and the I-5/Avenida Pico Interchange (12-ORA-5, PM 3.4) in the city of San Clemente and unincorporated San Diego County. The Proposed Project would add a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane in both directions along this 3.5 mile stretch of I-5.

This project is one of three being advanced as part of a 2020 agreement between the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), and Caltrans to help address near-term South Orange County traffic relief. This agreement officially ended the TCA’s effort to extend the 241 Toll Road. To read more about the agreement, click here.

I-5 Freeway Improvement Project map

OCTA and Caltrans are initiating the Project Approval and Environmental Document (PA&ED) Phase through the scoping process. A key component of scoping is public engagement. The scoping period is between June 30, 2022 – August 15, 2022.

OCTA is the Sponsor Agency. Caltrans is the Lead Agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Caltrans is preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pursuant to CEQA and an Environmental Assessment (EA) pursuant to NEPA.

Proposed Alternatives

Based on conceptual analysis, two alternatives are proposed for consideration. The preliminary alternatives under consideration include one No Build and one Build Alternative.

Alternative No. 1 (No Build):
The No Build Alternative proposes no improvements to I 5, maintaining the existing four general-purpose lanes throughout the Project limits in the northbound and southbound directions. The freeway facility would remain as is, with the exception of other proposed projects that are either under development or currently under construction.

Alternative No. 2 (Build Alternative):
Alternative 2 proposes to add an HOV lane on I-5 in the northbound and southbound directions within the project limits. The new HOV lane would connect to the existing HOV facility to the north of the project study area and extend south to the San Diego County/Orange County Line. The existing southbound inside general-purpose lane would be converted to an HOV lane between Avenida Pico and Avenida Presidio, the proposed southbound HOV lane would require outside widening to reestablish the fourth general purpose lane between Avenida Presidio and the San Diego County/Orange County Line, where the southbound HOV lane would become the inside general-purpose lane, and the outside general-purpose lane would transition to an auxiliary lane and ending south of the southbound Cristianitos Road exit ramp at the County Line. In the northbound direction, I¬ 5 is proposed to be widened to the outside to accommodate the additional HOV lane. The additional HOV lane will tie into the existing HOV lane at Avenida Pico. To accommodate the freeway widening, the widening or replacement of several bridges would be required.

The Build Alternative would implement ramp improvements where feasible and auxiliary lanes throughout the corridor and would include Transportation Systems Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM) features.

Public Scoping Meeting

OCTA and Caltrans hosted two public scoping meetings – one in-person meeting and one virtual meeting. The purpose of the scoping meetings was to provide information to agencies and the public regarding the proposed project and to obtain feedback on the scope and content that should be addressed in the environmental document.

The 45-day public comment period took place from June 30, 2022 - August 15, 2022, and all members of the public were invited to submit comments via the following ways:

  • Project email to with the subject line “I-5 Improvement Project from the County Line to Avenida Pico”.

  • Regular mail to Jayna Harris, Associate/Senior Environmental Planner, 20 Executive Park, Suite 200, Irvine, CA 92614

  • Court reporter during the scoping meeting

Next Steps/Milestones

  • Late 2023 – Publish Draft Project Report/Environmental Document and Conduct Public Hearing

  • Mid-2024 – Publish Final Project Report and Environmental Document

  • Mid-2026 – Begin Design (Plans, Specifications, and Estimates)*

  • Late 2030 - Begin Construction*

Schedule subject to change

*Dependent on funding availability


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Notice of Availability
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