By Lillian Boyd

The Orange County Transportation Authority is launching a strategic transportation study to address South Orange County’s transportation needs as the area continues to grow with new residents and jobs and as travel patterns and needs evolve.

The study, called the South Orange County Multimodal Transportation Study (SOCMTS), will examine a wide range of transportation needs over the next 25 years, including improvements to streets, bus and other transit options, highways and bikeways.

The area covered by the study encompasses about 40 percent of Orange County, generally south of State Route 55 to the San Diego County line, and from the coast to the foothills.

A virtual public meeting was held on Oct. 6. A recording of the virtual meeting is available at octa.net/southocstudy.

OCTA also welcomes comments through an online survey to hear from those who live, work and visit South Orange County. The brief 12-question survey, with a few additional optional questions, is available online in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese.

A link to the survey can be found at octa.net/southocstudy or can be completed by calling toll-free to 833.711.8070.

OCTA, which is Orange County’s transportation planning agency, is responsible for providing a balanced and sustainable transportation system for the entire county. The focus on South Orange County is necessary because over the next 25 years, projections show population growing by 170,000 residents, with an additional 130,000 jobs expected.

At the same time, travel patterns and transportation needs have continued to evolve since OCTA’s last major transportation study of the area in 2008. The projects from that study have resulted in a more than $1.5 billion investment in the area, including the I-5 carpool lane project between San Juan Creek Road and Avenida Pico, and the I-5 widening between SR-73 and El Toro Road, now under construction.

Since the 2008 study, other significant changes have occurred, including the elimination of the SR-241 Toll Road extension in favor of a non-tolled extension of Los Patrones Parkway, a decline in traditional transit ridership, the introduction of mobile transportation apps and on-demand rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft, as well as the introduction of community transit options such as shuttles and trolleys.

The South County study will continue in phases through the end of 2021, and residents, business owners and other key stakeholders will be asked to participate throughout.

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