LAKE ELSINORE – The Ortega (74) Highway connecting Riverside and Orange counties was closed today – and was expected to remain shut down all night – after rain flow pushed rocks and sediment onto the two-lane artery, officials said.
The closure went into effect around noon and was not expected to be lifted until Saturday morning, according to Caltrans District 8 spokeswoman Terri Kasinga.
“They’re not going to risk re-opening it when it’s dark,” Kasinga told City News Service. “It’s just a mess. There’s a constant flow of debris and mud. There’s even slippery ash from the fires last summer.”
A 30-mile section of the highway runs from Lake Elsinore to San Juan Capistrano. According to Caltrans, between 15,000 and 20,000 motorists use the highway daily.
The closures begin at Grand Avenue on the Riverside County side, and at Antonio Parkway on the OC side, according to the California Highway Patrol.
In early August, the Ortega was briefly shut down when the Falls Fire erupted. The blaze scorched 1,400 acres all along the route, damaging the roadway and guardrails.