(Editors Note: Lauren Thomas is a student journalist at Chapman University participating in the Voice of OC Youth Media program.)
For years, San Juan Capistrano has been working to address traffic on Del Obispo Street, which runs through the center of downtown.
This month, city officials just finished a $1.8 million improvement to remove a congested area at Paseo Terraza.
The City’s plan calls for Del Obispo Street to be 4 lanes of undivided highway, offering two lanes in each direction.
City officials have gotten resident complaints about the lack of sidewalk and bike lanes on Del Obispo Street. There were also complaints regarding the “pinch points,” where the existing two lanes merged down to one lane in each direction.
“The new widened roadway improves the flow and safety of the traffic since vehicles will not have to merge at the “pinch points” as they did in the previous roadway configuration,” said Assistant City Manger Jacob Green.
According to Green, Del Obispo is now safer for pedestrians and cyclists as well because they have their own sidewalk and bike lane with street lighting. Also, the new landscaping next to the roadway improves the air quality of the area.
Some cyclists have felt affected by the construction, however.
“I am an avid cyclist and the construction has made my route and riding more difficult,” said resident Grant Waggoner.
In 2014, the city applied for grant funding from Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to help fund the construction of this plan.
Half of the $1.8 million budget for widening Del Obispo came from OCTA Measure M funds – a countywide half-cent sales tax approved by voters to speed construction of transportation projects. Local developer fees paid for the other half of the project.