By Alex Groves
The first phase of a new four-lane arterial highway through Rancho Mission Viejo was recently completed, and motorists got the chance to drive on it for the first time on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
The highway, Los Patrones Parkway, was approved as part of an agreement between Orange County and Rancho Mission Viejo, LLC in 2004.
The first phase of the highway runs from Oso Parkway to Chiquita Canyon Drive.
A second phase, slated for completion in late 2018, will run to Cow Camp Road. The entire stretch will be about 4.5 miles when complete.
The highway is being built by Rancho Mission Viejo without the use of taxpayer dollars and ownership will be transferred to Orange County once it is completed.
“The completion of the first phase of Los Patrones Parkway is another major step towards our goal of improving transportation mobility in South County,” Lisa Bartlett, Supervisor for Orange County’s Fifth District, stated in a press release. “This project addresses the needs and concerns of current and future homeowners and our transportation agencies, while protecting South County’s beautiful natural environment.”
Los Patrones Parkway is expected to access to future job centers in Rancho Mission Viejo as well as existing job centers to the north. It will provide access to the SR-241 toll road at Oso Parkway.
The highway will have two wildlife crossings for animals to access more than 40 acres of habitat on the highway’s west side. The crossings are more than 200 feet long and will support deer, bobcats and coyotes.
Wildlife exclusion fencing is installed to keep animals from entering the highway; it will have a tighter weave on the bottom to keep smaller animals from getting through and looser weave on top to keep bigger animals out.
More than 100 acres of slopes adjacent to the highway will be revegetated with native habitats, including coastal sage scrub.
The Oso Parkway Bridge Project, scheduled to be completed in 2020 with construction beginning this fall, is expected to replace a segment of Oso Parkway with a bridge over Los Patrones Parkway, allowing direct access to the 241 from Los Patrones.