By Brian Park
Plans to reconstruct two retaining walls along Interstate 5 in San Juan Capistrano will draw their design inspiration from the city’s most historic landmark, the Mission.
In a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday, the Orange County Transportation Authority revealed design plans for the structures, which will be constructed as part of a $286 million project that will extend northbound and southbound carpool lanes along a 6.5-mile segment of I-5, between San Juan Creek Road and Avenida Pico in San Clemente.
A retaining wall, fronting Camino Capistrano and the Marriott Residence Inn, near Stonehill Drive, will be rebuilt to 800 feet in length and will range in height, along a slope, from 10 feet to 24 feet. The wall will be set back 80 feet from Camino Capistrano. Another retaining wall, on the north side of Stonehill Drive, across from auto dealerships, will be 110 feet long and 10 feet high.
Both walls will feature design elements inspired by the Mission’s bell wall. Renderings of the Mission’s bells and arches will be placed along the longer retaining wall. The texture of the walls will be similar to the cobble found in the Great Stone Church. The longer retaining wall will be colored beige while the smaller wall will be grey.
The total length of the construction area in San Juan Capistrano is about one mile in length, from San Juan Creek Road to Camino Las Ramblas.
The overall project is scheduled to begin this fall. The retaining walls will be built starting September 2014 and will take about six months, according to OCTA spokeswoman Julie Toledo. Toledo also said construction crews will work their way from the freeway and down the slope, instead of starting from street level on Camino Capistrano.
At the suggestion of the I-5/High Occupancy Vehicle Aesthetic Subcommittee, which the council establish in August to offer design suggestions for the project, OCTA will also plant 30 date palm trees along the southbound I-5 on-ramp at Camino Las Ramblas. Of the 30 trees, 12 will be located in San Juan Capistrano and 18 will be planted in Dana Point.
Because date palm trees are not the standard variety suggested by Caltrans, which is working with OCTA on elements of the project, the city is negotiating a cost-sharing maintenance agreement for the trees with Dana Point.