The Ortega (74) Highway between Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano was shut down for a brief period Tuesday while crews removed several boulders that might have otherwise rolled onto the two-lane corridor, and additional removals are planned over the next few weeks.
According to Caltrans District 8 spokeswoman Terri Kasinga, the “slope stabilization” operation moved forward Tuesday morning near the Lake Elsinore side of the 30-mile route.
Work has been scheduled to avoid disruptions to the morning and evening commutes, according to agency spokesman Shane Massoud. The boulder clearance is slated to continue until Dec. 19, with brief closures on both sides of the highway, typically happening on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Eastbound traffic generally will be stopped at mile post 9, and westbound motorists will be held at post 11, according to Massoud.
Any inclement weather would likely result in all operations being suspended, officials said.
On Mondays and Fridays, crews will be working behind guardrails, so the west and eastbound sides of the Ortega will be unaffected, according to Caltrans.
The highway courses through rugged, undulating terrain in the Cleveland National Forest, and during storms, rock and mud slides, as well as debris flows, are not uncommon, prompting partial and full closures of the east- west artery.
A rock slide last winter damaged the corridor.
More information is available at https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near- me/district-8.