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Ortega Highway Reopens 3 Weeks After Storm Damage Forced Closure, Repairs

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Ortega Highway reopened Wednesday three weeks after storm damage forced the closure of the crucial link between south Orange and Riverside counties.

State Route 74 was shut down Jan. 25 after crews discovered a “2-foot void” underneath the pavement following a series of heavy storms. The damage was found to be “severe” some 30 feet below the roadway, a Caltrans assessment found.

The “deep voids,” near Gibby Road east of San Juan Capistrano, were filled, and the pavement was removed and replaced, according to Caltrans District 12.

Caltrans had expected to work would take about three weeks as of Jan. 31, but the agency said Monday that crews had made good progress.

The closure required lengthy detours for those commuting between the San Juan Capistrano area and the Lake Elsinore area.

Though lanes in both directions are open to traffic, some repair work is continuing and workers will be flagging and directing traffic between 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays, Caltrans said.