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California State Route 261

California State Route 261 is a 6.2-mile tolled limited access freeway located in Orange County.  California State Route 261 begins at Walnut Avenue in the City of Irvine and follows a northward course to California State Route 241.  California State Route 261 is part of the Eastern Transportation Corridor.  


Part 1; the history of California State Route 261

The original California State Route 261 (CA 261) was defined by 1965 Legislative Chapters 1372 and 1397.  The original definition of CA 261 was "Route 101 near Longvale to Route 5 near Willows via the vicinity of Covelo and Mendocino Pass.  The original CA 261 appears on the 1966 Division of Highways Map as a planned highway over Mendocino Pass.  


Part of the justification for the creation of the original CA 261 can be inferred in the January/February 1965 California Highways & Public Works.  Existing Covelo Road at the Eel River is shown to have been heavily damaged by the 1964 Christmas Floods.  Covelo Road is the primary access point to Round Valley Indian Reservation. 

The duplicate definition of CA 261 was deleted via 1967 Legislative Chapter 235.  The original CA 261 can be seen constructed to State Standards east of US Route 101 to the Eel River in Dos Rios and west from Intestate 5 to Elk Creek on the 1969 Division of Highways Map.  

1972 Legislative Chapter 1216 transferred the original CA 261 to CA 162.  An extended CA 162 can be seen for the first time on the 1975 Caltrans Map.  CA 162 is shown built to State Standards east from Dos Rios through Covelo to the boundary of Mendocino National Forest.  CA 162 would never be built to State Standards through Mendocino National Forest over Mendocino Pass but the through route exists as National Forest Route 7 on Mendocino Pass Road.  

During 1986 the Transportation Corridors Agencies (TCA) of Orange County were created.  Corridors governed by the TCA included: the Eastern Transportation Corridor, Foothill Transportation Corridor and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor.  1987 Legislative Chapter 1413 allowed for transportation corridors to be constructed by way of toll funds.  

The Eastern Transportation Corridor was assigned as CA 231 by way of 1988 Legislative Chapter 1364.  As originally defined CA 231 was plotted between "Route 5 near the border of the Cities of Tustin and Irvine to Route 91."  The planned corridor of the third CA 231 appears on the 1990 Caltrans Map.  


According to cahighways.org the limited access portion of Jamboree Road was constructed during 1989-1990 as a cooperative project between the City of Irvine and Orange County.  Jamboree Road was constructed as a limited access facility from the planned southern terminus of CA 231 to Barranca Parkway.  The purpose of Jamboree Road was to enhance access to Tustin Marine Corps Air Station.  

1996 Legislative Chapter 1154 deleted CA 231 by way of transfer of CA 241 and the newly designated CA 261.  CA 261 was given a definition of "from Walnut Avenue in the City of Irvine to Route 241."  Walnut Avenue served to note where CA 261 ended, and the limited access portion of Jamboree Road began.  CA 261 would open to traffic from Jamboree Road to CA 241 during 1999.  The completed CA 261 can be seen on the 2005 Caltrans Map


Part 2; a drive on California State Route 261

Notably Interstate 5 and CA 261 do not intersect.  Interstate 5 traffic is directed to take an Exit onto Jamboree Road to access CA 261. 



CA 261 northbound begins via a transition from the limited access segment of Jamboree Road at Walnut Avenue.  Traffic seeking to access Interstate 5 and avoid tolls are directed to stay right on Jamboree Road. 







CA 261 Exit 2 accesses Irvine Boulevard.  Since 2014 CA 261 has been converted to cashless tolling which is managed by FasTrak electronic toll collection.  




CA 261 Exit 3 accesses Portola Parkway. 




CA 261 northbound Exit 6A accesses Orange County Route S18/Santiago Canyon Road and southbound CA 241.  Northbound CA 261 terminates and merges into northbound CA 241.  





Southbound CA 261 begins from southbound CA 241 Exit 32.


CA 261 southbound Exit 3 accesses Portola Road. 



CA 261 southbound Exit 2 accesses Irvine Boulevard.  Traffic heading to Interstate 5 is directed to Exit CA 261 onto Irvine Boulevard.  






The final Exit on CA 261 southbound accesses Walnut Avenue/Edinger Avenue.  CA 261 officially terminates at Walnut Avenue but the limited access Jamboree Road continues south to Barranca Parkway.






Part 3; Roadwaywiz on California State Route 261

During October of 2020 Dan Murphy of the Roadwaywiz YouTube Channel and Gribblenation featured real-time drives on CA 261.  Below CA 261 can be viewed southbound along with the limited access segment of Jamboree Road.  


Below the limited access segment of Jamboree Road and CA 261 northbound can be viewed.


During May 2020 CA 133 was featured as part of the Roadwaywiz Los Angeles Webinar.  CA 261 along with the other Orange County Toll Roads are discussed by panelists Dan Murphy, Scott Onson and Steve Alps at 50:54-1:09:50.

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