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Ortega Highway

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Title: Ortega Highway  
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Ortega Highway

State Route 74
;">Route information
Defined by S&HC § 374
Maintained by Caltrans
Length:
Existed: 1934[1] – present
;">Major junctions
West end: Template:Jct/extra I-5 in San Juan Capistrano
  Template:Jct/extra I-15 in Lake Elsinore
Template:Jct/extra I-215 in Perris
Template:Jct/extra SR 79 in Hemet
East end: Template:Jct/extra SR 111 in Palm Desert
Length:
Length:
Length:
Length:
;">
;">Highway system

State Route 74 (SR 74), part of which forms the Pines to Palms Scenic Byway and the Ortega Highway, is a mostly scenic highway in the U.S. state of California. It runs from Palm Desert in Riverside County westward to San Juan Capistrano in Orange County.

Route description

SR 74 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System[2] and is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System.[3] However, it is only an eligible scenic highway as designated by Caltrans from the western boundary of the San Bernardino National Forest to its junction with SR 111.[4] State Route 74 is called the California Wildland Firefighters Memorial Highway (from Lake Elsinore to San Juan Capistrano), as designated by various state laws.[5]

SR 74 begins at an interchange with I-5 in the city of San Juan Capistrano and heads east as the Ortega Highway, loosely paralleling San Juan Creek. The highway leaves the San Juan Capistrano city limits and turns northeast, going through the community of Rancho Mission Viejo and entering Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park and eventually Cleveland National Forest. After going through San Juan Hot Springs, SR 74 enters Riverside County.[6]

The highway continues winding through the Cleveland Mountains and passes through the community of El Cariso before entering the city of Lake Elsinore. SR 74 continues northwest on Grand Avenue before continuing northeast on Riverside Drive and continuing along the shore of Lake Elsinore. The road continues southeast on Collier Avenue before continuing northeast and intersecting I-15. SR 74 leaves the city of Lake Elsinore and continues through unincorporated Riverside County before turning east and entering Perris. After traveling through downtown, SR 74 merges with I-215 and runs concurrently with I-215 before exiting the freeway as Matthews Road.[7]

SR 74 travels southeast through Romoland and turns east to become Pinacate Road, continuing through Homeland and Green Acres before running concurrently with SR 79 as Florida Avenue through Hemet. SR 79 splits off and heads north towards San Jacinto while SR 74 continues through East Hemet and Valle Vista before entering San Bernardino National Forest. The Pines to Palms Highway parallels San Jacinto Creek as it winds through the mountains before intersecting SR 243 in Mountain Center and providing access to the Hemet Reservoir. SR 74 follows the Garner Valley Wash through Garner Valley before meeting the eastern terminus of SR 371. The road crosses the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation before going through the communities of Gardenland and Pinyon Pines and turning north along Deep Canyon and becoming the western boundary of the University of California Desert Research Area.[7]

As the highway descends to the Coachella Valley area, it parallels Carrizo Creek before entering the city limits of Palm Desert, where SR 74 meets its current legal northern terminus. The SR 74 designation continued into Palm Desert as a city arterial to its northern terminus at SR 111, which has also had its designation removed through Palm Desert.[7]

Route 74 passes through many parks and National Forests along its route. Some of these places include the San Bernardino National Forest, the Cleveland National Forest, the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park, Lake Elsinore State Recreation Park, the Soboba Indian Reservation, Lake Hemet and the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation.

History

The route has been signed as Route 74 since the establishment of state routes in 1934.[1] Its original corridor between then CA 71 Corona Freeway (later I-15W) and present-day I-215 (then, I-15E and U.S.395) was numbered as U.S. 395, through downtown Perris. East of the CA 74/U.S. 395 junction, from Romoland-east, was CA 740 (Florida Avenue).

A portion of Route 74 in Orange and Riverside counties is named after the Spanish explorer Sgt. José Ortega, who led a small party of men around the newly discovered San Francisco Bay from Palo Alto to the Carquinez Straits.[8]

A portion of Route 74 appears in the 1963 American comedy film It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World during the opening act where the film's major characters meet for the first time.

Route 74 between San Juan Capistrano and Perris due to its narrow roads and high traffic volume, holds an ominous claim to fame as one of the most dangerous highways in the state.[9]

California's legislature has relinquished state control of segments of SR 74 in Perris and Palm Desert, and turned it over to local control. This includes deleting from the highway code an unconstructed segment that would have extended SR 74 from SR 111 to Interstate 10.[10]

Pines to Palms Highway

On August 11, 1930, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors officially named the highway "from San Jacinto Mountains to the Desert" as the Pines to Palms Highway.[11]

Major intersections

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References

Further reading

External links

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