Hells Kitchen Threatened by Road Work

Hells Kitchen is one the more well visited biker bars in Southern California, located along Ortega Highway, above the city of Lake Elsinore...

Hells Kitchen is one the more well visited biker bars in Southern California, located along Ortega Highway, above the city of Lake Elsinore. But road work on Ortega Highway, that started yesterday, could threaten its existence.

The Ortega Highway is a 29 mile segment of Highway 74 that connects the cities of San Juan Capistrano and Lake Elsinore. It roughly parallels San Juan Creek as it cuts through the Santa Ana Mountain range. It's one of just two thoroughfares that connects trendy Orange County with the working class Riverside County.

It's also one of most popular roads for motorcycle riders in Southern California.

The hoards of motorcycles running both directions along Ortega Highway was the reason why Tyler Paulson chose to build his dream biker bar there. It's situated in tiny hamlet of El Cariso Village, almost completely hidden from the skies with oak trees and pine trees.

However, accidents along Ortega Highway have been rising steadily over the past 10 years, as families in Orange County began moving their residence to Riverside County in search of affordable homes. Weekday commuters skyrocketed on the twisty two-lane road.

There is a smaller stretch of Ortega Highway that winds through a gorge, right at the Orange County and Riverside County lines. The side of the gorge is solid rock. When the highway was originally built in 1930, the crews didn't cut the rock wall far enough back, causing all curves to become blind curves. As a result, drivers and riders don't have time to stop if an on-coming vehicle strays over the center line.

And that's how many motorcycle riders have lost their lives.

So on that explanation, it makes sense to cut back more of the rock to make the curves more visible.

However, the other argument is that CalTrans, the state agency in charge of maintaining state highways, failed to accomodate Highway 91, the other thoroughfare connecting the two counties. Highway 91 is actually a freeway, with between 8-10 lanes in various places. Pretty much at all times of the day, it's a virtual parking lot. As people migrated to Riverside County over the years, CalTrans just sat on their hands and watched congestion fester on the 91.

That's why traffic increased on Ortega Highway, and is why more riders have lost their lives.

So as road work along Ortega Highway commences, traffic is expected to subside. This means motorcycle riders as well. The work will continue for 3 years.

One rider who goes by the handle, "JR73", posted a message on HarleyChatGroup saying that he won't be riding Ortega Highway until its finished...
We'll see what it looks like in a couple years cause i'm staying off it till then.
Tyler Paulson, the proprietor of Hells Kitchen, is now worried his dream business will crumble away. 3 years is like an eternity for him.

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