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Los Patrones Parkway opens in hopes of easing South County commutes

Los Patrones Parkway opens in hopes of easing South County commutes
The 4.5-mile Los Patrones Parkway, which provides a north-south link between Oso Parkway and Chiquita Canyon Drive, opened Wednesday after the morning commute. The hope is that new roadway will ease congestion in southern Orange County. (Photo courtesy of Rancho Mission Viejo)

A newly opened roadway should give residents in master planned Rancho Mission Viejo and surrounding neighborhoods greater mobility and easier access to the 241 toll road.

The 4.5-mile Los Patrones Parkway, which provides a north-south link between Oso Parkway and Chiquita Canyon Drive, opened Wednesday after the morning commute.

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The toll-free roadway consists of four lanes — two in each direction — and is expected to immediately improve mobility in the region, county officials said.

An additional segment, which extends south to Cow Camp Road, is scheduled to be completed later this year. a,,

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Los Patrones Parkway includes a multi-purpose pathway trail for pedestrians and cyclists that extends from Oso to Chiquita Canyon.

While Los Patrones Parkway will be owned by the county, Rancho Mission Viejo provided $85 million of the approximate $100 million construction cost.

“The completion of the first phase of Los Patrones Parkway is another major step towards our goal of improving transportation mobility in South County,” said county Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. “This project addresses the needs and concerns of current and future homeowners and our transportation agencies, while protecting South County’s beautiful, natural environment.”

Rancho Mission Viejo is comprised of more than 17,000 acres of permanent open space and about 6,000 acres of future residential and mixed-use development.

Close to 3,400 of the planned 14,000 homes have been constructed.

“It’s close to San Juan Capistrano, just a short drive up La Pata to San Clemente, and now with the opening of Los Patrones Parkway, we can get to Mission Viejo and north O.C. that much faster,” said Bob Spillar, Rancho Mission Viejo resident and member of the homeowners association board.

Construction included providing two wildlife crossings underneath the road, enabling animals to access over 40 acres of habitat on the west side of the roadway. Fencing was installed to prevent animals from entering the new roadway.

Environmental considerations also involved replanting more than 100 acres of vegetation.

In past years, Rancho Mission Viejo has partnered with the county on construction of other South County arterial roadways, including Antonio, Crown Valley, Marguerite and Oso parkways.

“We’ve got quite a long history here in providing the infrastructure to accommodate our communities,” said Mike Balsamo, senior vice president of governmental affairs for Rancho Mission Viejo. “We’ve had a great partnership with the county of Orange.”

More commuters are coming. Rancho Mission Viejo will include about 14,000 homes at build-out.

Lou Ponsi is a contributor to TimesOC.

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