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Pico/I-5 Upgrade is 2 Years Away

The most problematic intersection in town according to Patch readers is on track for improvements in a couple of years.

An informal survey of Patch users showed the I-5/Avenida Pico interchange to be one of the most problematic intersections for motorists to navigate--but a big project to improve the crossroads is in the design phases.

"Was a passenger in a car that was rear ended while we were exiting the freeway at Pico-North in the right lane," . "This lane is confusing to many. Also constantly watch folks run the red light. NEVER jump out into that intersection when the light changes!"

Commenter Christine Lampert also criticized the design and signage of the I-5/Pico interchange.

"Driving past the high school on Pico toward the ocean, the recently remodeled left turn lane onto the freeway is only for entering the freeway, but there is no sign stating this until it's too late to merge to the right," she said.

"The solution would be to place a sign back by the high school that states the left lane is 'left turn only onto freeway -- no through traffic,'" Lampert continued. "Also, this can be painted on the road far enough back so that drivers have time to move over. I have seen people stuck in the left turn lane time after time. They make desperate last minute merges to the right and it is dangerous."

City Engineer Bill Cameron said earlier this month the plans for improving the intersections are well underway; environmental documents have been approved, and engineers are designing the final plans.

Cameron said the project could go out to bid as early as late next year or the first half of 2014. The government must acquire two pieces of land to build the new interchange, however, which could cause hangups in the process, Cameron said.

The and west of the I-5 will have to be acquired and demolished. The and and on the other side of the freeway will stay put, though they were under consideration for demolition early in the planning process.

The Pico interchange project is part of a larger plan by the California Department of Transportation to widen six miles of the I-5 from San Juan Capistrano to San Clemente and add carpool lanes--the larger $275-million project is set to start construction at around the same time as the Pico interchange, according the the Orange County Register.

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DJ April 25, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I'm so happy to see this project is underway. I have children that attend SCHS and use that exit daily. There are also new teen drivers that use the exit daily. It will make it a lot safer and timely. Imagine how these intersections will be after the Marblehead project is complete, it is best to do begin ASAP.
Adam Townsend April 25, 2012 at 09:08 PM
The interchange project is just part of the larger widening. I believe the HOV lane plans go down past the Camino Real/I-5 junction.
george gregory April 25, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I agree two years is too long to wait if we wait even longer to complete the widening it may take some time to even get to Pico's new interchange in your daily endeavors not to mention if widening I-5 starts after the Pico's new interchange we will be looking at multiple years of construction and traffic Bad plan finish it all at once before it's too little to late your children may be in collage before they can use it
DJ April 25, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Ha! I moved to San Clemente years ago, I have watched the growth and the resistance of growth from several residents. You can't allow new construction (Talega & Marblehead), then try to stop the progress of freeway construction. The town has grown (I don't have the exact population figures), but we need to allow all access to and from San Clemente ASAP, or we will regret it in a few years. If you think there is congestion today, just wait. Look at what happened in San Diego and Los Angeles. They are both attempting to catch up with freeway construction to accommodate the large population growth. We need to allow all access roads, or stop allowing new construction of homes and outlet malls. We can't have both.
george gregory April 26, 2012 at 12:16 AM
i agree dont stop now go go go lobby lobby lobby

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