Ortega Highway Reopens After 3-Week Closure

California State Route 74 (Ortega Highway) reopened Wednesday after it was closed for three weeks due to road damage.

The highway reopened around 10:23 Wednesday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol's Orange County office. Caltrans's Orange County division, District 12, also confirmed the reopening. 

The roadway is an important commuting route between Orange and Riverside counties. Many drivers were forced to deal with what they described as an excruciating commute while the roadway was closed.

A dip was first discovered near post mile 5.5 of Ortega Highway on Jan. 25, after a series of powerful storms pummeled the region over the weekend. Soon after, crews from the California Department of Transportation noticed the pavement was cracking.

Caltrans said recent storms created a 2-foot void under the road where "soil and roadway material had been washed away," which caused the "depression" in the roadway," Caltrans said in a statement in January. Additionally, the cracking in the roadway indicated there were "deeper tension issues."

Then, it was determined that soil and roadway materials up to 30 feet under the pavement had become "unstable and [were] not strong enough to support the road," according to Caltrans.

Caltrans noted it would "excavate damaged soil and materials", "fill in voids and strengthen the remaining soil and materials" before rebuilding the roadway.

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