Oso Creek Multi-Use Trail
- Project Location:
Forbes Road, Laguna Niguel CA 92677
- Project Description:
100-year-old railroad tracks, the I-5 and SR-73 freeways, a heavily-travelled arterial roadway, and an assortment of small commercial businesses were all crowded along Forbes Road and the banks of Oso Creek in November 2011, at the time the City of Laguna Niguel approved the “Gateway District” Specific Plan. Key to the Plan to transform the aging low-rise commercial area into a high-density, mixed-use transit-oriented community was the trail link, planned along Oso Creek to offer local pedestrian and bikeway access to the Laguna Niguel Metrolink Commuter Rail Station, bus system transfers, and the regional trail network. Construction of the Oso Creek Multi-Use Trail effectively narrowed the existing overly-wide Forbes Road cul-de-sac to bring it down to a more pedestrian-friendly scale. The trail created new community green space alongside a once-bleak trapezoidal creek channel, and reduced the area’s carbon footprint by encouraging walking, biking and mass transit ridership by residents in the 3,000 new high-density dwelling units planned for the vicinity. In conjunction with the overall land use redevelopment, the trail project helped reverse the hydrologic and water-polluting impacts of 1960’s-era urbanization, removing 2.8 acres of existing pavement within Forbes Road and the Orange County Flood Control District’s right-of-way. The old impervious road surface was replaced with a permeable-asphalt off-street bike trail, a decomposed-granite pedestrian path, and a parkway landscaped with drought-tolerant plants. Stormwater from Forbes Road and adjacent street intersections was directed into the parkway, which was designed as a bioretention system to filter out stormwater pollutants. Interpretive signage, describing watershed issues and explaining the water quality benefits of the project to trail users, was added to enhance a small plaza seating area. The land use concept and trail features were quickly embraced by land developers, who by 2015 had started construction on over 1,500 new dwelling units in the new Gateway neighborhood.
- Project Justification:
The Oso Creek Multi-Use Trails project stands out in leveraging the potential of narrow strips of right-of-way to foster sustainability and create a new sense of community. The bike and pedestrian trails connect residents’ high-density homes functionally to the Metrolink Station and provide opportunities for outdoor interaction with both people and environment,, while providing water quality benefits to Oso Creek and air quality benefits to the region. In terms of surface water resources, the 3,650’-long project site drained storm water runoff from 1.6 total lane miles of roads. The storm drain pipes that used to outfall directly to adjacent Oso Creek were detoured by the project through landscaped infiltration strips and bioretention planters, which reduce the discharge rate and filter out pollutants. The project landscaping featured native trees and understory shrubs, which offered new shade, aesthetic enhancement and habitat value along a segment of the creek channel that had been mostly devoid of these qualities for 40 years.
- Special Circumstances:
The trails in the north half of the project occupy a 30’-wide swath of what previously was street pavement in the City’s North Forbes Road right-of-way. The southern half of the trail alignment overlays the Oso Creek Channel maintenance access road owned by the Orange County Flood Control District (OCFCD), which runs parallel and contiguous to South Forbes Road. Under a joint use agreement between the City of Laguna Niguel and the OCFCD, OCFCD maintained its ownership and allowed use of its property for the trails, while the City acted as the Lead Agency responsible all project construction and long-term maintenance. This interagency partnership helped enable the project to earn recognition in the form of funding grants from the Orange County Transportation Authority under its Measure M2 Tier 2 Environmental Cleanup Program, and from the State Water Resources Control Board under its Stormwater Program.
- Project Attachments:
- Award Citation::
By creating walking and bicycle trails to the local Metrolink Station, the project was a linchpin in the plan to redevelop a low-rise commercial district into a vibrant, high-density, sustainable community. Permeable pavements and bioretention planters served both aesthetic and environmental functions.
- Suggested Award Summary:
The project was a linchpin in the plan to redevelop the City of Laguna Niguel’s Gateway District from an aging, low-rise commercial area into a vibrant, sustainable community. The new trails alongside Oso Creek offered local pedestrian and bikeway access from new high-density residential complexes to the Metrolink Rail Station. Space for the trails was carved out by narrowing the existing overly-wide Forbes Road cross-section to bring it down to a more pedestrian-friendly scale, and utilizing Orange County Flood Control District maintenance accessway. Impervious roadway pavement was replaced with permeable asphalt, decomposed granite, and landscaped bioretention areas to help reverse the hydrologic and water-polluting impacts on the creek. The trail created new community green and recreational space alongside a once-bleak trapezoidal creek channel, and reduced the area’s carbon footprint by encouraging walking, biking and mass transit ridership by residents in the 3,000 new dwelling units planned for the neighborhood.