Orange County-boosters want people to know that they are entering our extra-special part of the world when they drive to and through the county on the freeways. So, by the end of 2008, 20-foot-high Orange County signs will be erected as a pilot program at the Orange County/Los Angeles County borders on the Orange Freeway (57), the Riverside Freeway (91), the San Gabriel River Freeway (605), and the Santa Ana Freeway (5).
If everyone likes the signs and agrees to keep them, more will be added.
Have you ever been bottled up in traffic, as I have, at the Oso Parkway interchange with the San Diego Freeway (I-5) between Mission Viejo and Laguna Hills? Help is on the way, but it will take time. Caltrans is beginning construction in September on widening the ramps at the intersection – a $23.8 million project which will continue through 2011.
In addition, the Orange County Transportation Authority is working to synchronize the traffic lights along the accident-prone Oso Parkway from Rancho Santa Margarita to Aliso Viejo.
Many people have asked me what is happening to the retail center announced months ago for the long stretch along Pacific Coast Highway north of Dover Drive in Newport Beach. Currently, a string of 17 lots with empty, decaying buildings form an eyesore at the entry to Mariners Mile.
The retail center was to be called Bel Mare and developers Allied Retail Properties and Red Mountain Retail Group spoke of an Italian village with a series of exclusive designer shops, restaurants and a prototype upscale Rite Aid store.
To start, Caltrans denied the project a needed traffic signal to allow automobile ingress and egress, so Bel Mare had to be scaled back by 35 percent. Then the project was re-designed several times to meet city requirements. And now, with development delayed and Rite Aid in financial difficulties, there are suits and countersuits between the developers and the pharmacy.
So, don’t hold your breath.