San Juan Capistrano City officials and community leaders have been preparing an $86 million project to build a new interchange for Ortega Highway and I-5 for years. The first full closure for Ortega Highway’s bridge and the freeway portion under it will occur overnight Friday and Saturday. Crews will have to get the job done under the strict time constraints or face hefty fines.
If you are planning to travel through the San Juan Capistrano area via the I-5 or Ortega Highway on August 2nd or the 3rd, you may want to reschedule or reroute, as the south side of the bridge that passes over the freeway will be demolished.
Working approximately eight hours each night, a crew of about 20 people will be gradually chipping away on the old bridge. But first they will have a 2-foot layer of crushed concrete laid under the bridge to protect the I-5, which will be closed in both directions from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
If Caltrans fails to abide by the schedule, they will be facing serious fines starting $1,700 for every 10 minutes during the first half-hour, then $2,600 every 10 minutes for the second half-hour and $3,400 every 10 minutes thereafter.
Crews prepared the southern portion of the bridge for demolition since its closure on June 1st. Over the next several months, that portion of the bridge will be rebuilt. Once that is completed, traffic will be switched to that side, and the process will be repeated on the north side.
Some residents are looking forward to the demolition and planned an unofficial watch party in the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Del Obispo Street, but organizer Jonathan Volzke said he wasn’t sure people were still interested.
“Obviously it dampened some of the enthusiasm when it got split into two days,” he told reporters.
According to Dave Richardson, spokesman for the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans scheduled the demolition over two nights instead of one to make sure they had enough time to get the job done safely.
He anticipates there will be some onlookers but doesn’t expect anyone to stick around long.
“It’s not the most exciting demolition to watch,” Richardson said. “They just peck away at it all night, and it’s loud.”
Construction zones can be dangerous places to drive a vehicle through and you can risk being in an accident. If you are injured in an accident during road construction and want compensation, contact a San Juan Capistrano car accident lawyer for more information.