Alternatives to Reduce a Canyon Bottleneck

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A map showing options to improve the El Toro Road intersection at Laguna Canyon.
A map showing options to improve the El Toro Road intersection at Laguna Canyon.

Given the sensitivity of Laguna Canyon, we should explore every option that would enable better traffic flow at a reduced impact to the canyon.  One of the best options to achieve this is to eliminate the redundant portion of El Toro Road and return it to wilderness uses.

El Toro traffic would use the existing 73 feeder system to access Laguna Canyon Road. By eliminating intersections travel time could actually be reduced.

The advantages of eliminating the redundancies are easy to view on a map: southbound El Toro traffic would use the 73 feeder to join the 133 at the junction of the 73 and 133.

There are three options for northbound El Toro traffic:

Simple Option – Just use the existing ramps from the 133 to the 73 feeder.

Improved Option – Improvements to the current intersection of the 133 and the 73 feeder should be considered.  A dedicated ramp for northbound 133 to southbound 73 feeder would be the most obvious improvement.  Several other improvements could also be made to further improve traffic flow – all of which would be less than the $39 million budget for the current proposal of just adding more merge lanes to the current intersection.

One-way Option – Another variation would be to make El Toro one-way, northbound only, between the current 133 intersection and the 73

Any of these three variations would make better use of the 73 feeder while at the same time completely eliminating the bottleneck and congestion at the current 133 and El Toro intersection.  The key here is to move the merging and the congestion to the 133 – 73 intersection, which already has the infrastructure, width, and throughput to handle the merging much better than further down in the middle of Laguna Canyon.

While Option 2, the “Improved Option” would add less than a half mile of distance, it would actually improve travel time since two traffic lights intersections are eliminated. Gaining traffic throughput this way would allow us to return land to wilderness uses rather than taking more away.  That is the option displayed in the map below.


David Raber, Laguna Beach


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  1. This is brilliant!! Talk about a frustration that we all share on a daily basis and this simple, obvious solution to removing the congestion at El Toro/Laguna Canyon Road is a fantastic idea. My husband drives from Laguna Beach to his workshop in Aliso Viejo daily. When I showed him this letter and asked how he would feel about driving the extra distance to get on LCR on his way home, he agreed that it is a great idea. Let’s do it!!


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