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By Jim Shilander

Officials from the Orange County Transportation Authority provided an updated timeline for construction of the Avenida Pico interchange and widening of Interstate 5 through San Clemente last week.

The project’s first phase, which will include a continuous-access high-occupancy vehicle lane between San Juan Creek Road and Avenida Pico on both sides of the freeway, is underway from San Juan Creek Road to Pacific Coast Highway. The second phase, between PCH and Avenida Vista Hermosa, is scheduled to begin within the next few months, said project engineer Hamid Torkamanha.

The shortest, but most complex portion of the project, the reconstruction of the Avenida Pico interchange, will likely not begin until early 2015, he said. That portion is the smallest distance-wise, but will see the project’s greatest challenge as the I-5 bridge over Pico will be demolished and reconstructed.

The bridge will be demolished in two phases, allowing four lanes of traffic to remain traveling in each direction, though lane widths will be reduced to 11 feet and shoulders reduced to two feet.

Bids for that portion of the project will likely be advertised soon, but it will take several months for them to come in and for a contract to be awarded, Torkamanha said.

OCTA hopes to have the bridge project started by the time the developer of the Marblehead Coastal residential property completes construction on Avenida Vista Hermosa west of Interstate 5 where it currently terminates. A representative from the developer, Taylor Morrison said the road could be open by January or February 2015.

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