Company:
City of Costa Mesa
Status:
Awarded
Awarded:
Transportation Project of the Year
Additional Files
Merrimac Demonstration summary - page 1
Merrimac Demonstration summary - page 2
LA Times - Daily pilot article
Merrimac Way bike box during construction phase
Merrimac cycle tracks during construction phase
Merrimac midblock HAWK signal for pedestrians and bicycles
Merrimac green conflict area striping
Merrimac Cycle Tracks
Additional Information

YouTube video created to highlight the project follows:
https://youtu.be/cMsZRkCDmMU

Merrimac Way Active Transportation Improvements

Project Location:

The project is located in both the eastbound and westbound directions on Merrimac Way between Harbor Boulevard and Fairview Road, in the City of Costa Mesa in Orange County, California.

Project Description:

The Merrimac Way Active Transportation Improvement Project implemented innovative pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along the full length of the corridor with a reduction in travel lanes.  The project included the first cycle tracks in the City, multiuse paths for pedestrians and bicyclists, and a midblock pedestrian/bicycle crossing with a pedestrian hybrid beacon (HAWK).  The multi-use paths are separated from adjacent vehicles with landscaping, and the cycle tracks on both sides of Merrimac Way provide a buffer between vehicles and pedestrians.  The project included a reduction in travel lanes, street rehabilitation, median realignment, landscaping, green bicycle conflict striping, and ADA improvements. The design was completed in 2020 and construction completed in August 2021. 

Historically, the City received speeding complaints on Merrimac Way from adjacent residents and Orange Coast College (OCC) staff and students.  Merrimac Way was a four-lane arterial running east-west with average daily traffic volumes of approximately 10,000 vehicles per day and a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour. The low volumes on Merrimac Way made this an ideal candidate for consideration of alternative treatments and reduction of vehicle travel lanes. 

City staff engaged the community to identify safety improvements on Merrimac.  On April 21, 2018, the City of Costa Mesa partnered with the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and Orange Coast College to host a tactile urbanism demonstration pilot project titled, “Explore Merrimac” to demonstrate proposed bicycle facility improvements on Merrimac Way, including cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes. The project was showcased from April 19 to May 17, 2018, which provided an opportunity to test bicycle facility infrastructure improvement options for Merrimac Way and encourage residents and students to walk and bike in the area. SCAG collected community feedback during the “Explore Merrimac” event and throughout the duration of the demonstration project including 93 surveys.  98 percent of the survey respondents were in support of making the improvements permanent and 96 percent of the survey respondents felt the improvements made the street feel more safe and inviting.  Speed surveys were conducted during the pilot project which found an overall 15 % reduction in speed.  In addition, Public Services staff received input from the community via e-mail and phone calls and incorporated this input and the evaluation of the demonstration project into the final design of the bicycle facility infrastructure improvements on Merrimac Way. 

Project Highlights include:
• First cycle tracks in the City of Costa Mesa
• New multi-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists with landscape buffer
• New green bicycle boxes and green bicycle conflict striping
• ADA improvements
• 101 green K71 flexible traffic bollards installed
• 170,000 square feet of new pavement
• Road diet implemented to reduce the number of travel lanes from 4 to 2 lanes

Project Justification:

One of the goals of the Merrimac Way Active Transportation project was to provide healthy mobility options and implement a sustainable transportation project to benefit city residents and visitors to the Orange County Fair and students at the Orange Coast College. Several meetings were held with the community, including residents, students and faculty of Orange Coast College to identify improvements that will help biking and walking as well as reducing speeding.

The Merrimac Way project was envisioned following completion of two other adjacent bicycle trail projects. SCAG’s Go Human demonstration project provided an ideal way to test a road diet project on Merrimac Way and collect meaningful data about both positive and negative effects of the effort. The demonstration project identified potential improvements to the design concept that were incorporated during the final design process. In addition, it showed that a lane diet can be performed without significant impacts to overall mobility in the region. Traffic impacts were evaluated over a one-month period to measure benefits of the demonstration project.  Speed surveys were conducted during the pilot project which found an overall 15 % reduction in speed. SCAG collected community feedback throughout the duration of the demonstration project including 93 surveys.  98 percent of the survey respondents were in support of making the improvements permanent and 96 percent of the survey respondents felt the improvements made the street feel more safe and inviting.

The Merrimac Way project provides a safe and convenient active transportation corridor between two major thoroughfares in the City. This project closes an important gap for active transportation users in central Costa Mesa by connecting the existing multipurpose trails on Harbor Boulevard to the southern entrance of Orange Coast College. This project allows a streamlined commute for users to remain on protected bicycle facilities throughout their commute from various neighborhoods along Harbor Boulevard or from regional corridors such as the Orange County Loop and Santa Ana River Trail. In addition, the project provides students and residents a safe alternative to driving and providing a regional connection to Orange Coast College and nearby elementary and high schools.  An Orange Coast College study conducted in 2016, found that 26.6% of students ride their bike to school. This project increases the safety of students biking and encourages the use of active transportation for other students with protected bicycle facilities. 

The project was implemented successfully and a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on November 19, 2021. Merrimac Way provides a safe bicycling and pedestrian connection to other adjacent bicycle trails, two major arterials – Harbor Boulevard and Fairview Road, Orange Coast College, and Orange County Fairgrounds.

Special Circumstances:

The SCAG Go Human event for the Merrimac Way Active Transportation project, called Explore Merrimac, engaged over 400 community participants in the demonstration project to gain community feedback, facilitate public involvement in the potential implementation, and to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety.  SCAG, the City of Costa Mesa, Orange Coast College, and the project advisory committee organized the Explore Merrimac demonstration project.  During the demonstration project, the community provided 41,584 impressions and 93 surveys were collected.  A summary of the survey results from the participants at the SCAG Go Human event follow:
• 98% support making these improvements permanent
• 96% think improvements make the street feel more safe and inviting
• 79% support buffered bike lanes
• 70% would always or frequently ride to school/work/play if they could ride their bike on protected facilities
• 73% had never attended a community meeting about transportation
• 63% under 44 years old
• 20% Hispanic/Latino

The Explore Merrimac demonstration project offered Costa Mesa residents and Orange Coast College students an opportunity to re-imagine Merrimac Way by transforming the streets into safer and more enjoyable place to walk, bike, skate and roll. The temporary demonstration featured a protected bike lane on both sides of Merrimac Way, sidewalk seating and shade, an activated community event hub, and connections to the Core Campus Bike Loop path.
In addition to the SCAG Go Human event, the City of Costa Mesa hosted community meetings before and after the demonstration project to get feedback into the project design concept and promote pedestrian and bicycle safety.  The community meetings were hosted in facilities at Orange Coast College and at City Hall.  About 15 to 30 community members participated in each of the public outreach meetings.

In addition to the public meetings, Costa Mesa staff received input from the community via e-mail and phone calls and incorporated this input and the evaluation of the demonstration project into the final design of the bicycle facility infrastructure improvements on Merrimac Way. 
Other project statistics include:
• 101 green K71 flexible traffic bollards installed
• First cycle tracks in the City of Costa Mesa
• New multi-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists with landscape buffer
• New pedestrian hybrid beacon (HAWK signal) installed midblock
• New green bicycle boxes and green bicycle conflict striping
• ADA improvements
• Road diet implemented to reduce the number of travel lanes from four (4) to two (2) lanes for the length of the corridor

Project Attachments:

YouTube video created to highlight the project follows:
https://youtu.be/cMsZRkCDmMU

 

 

Award Citation::

Merrimac Way Active Transportation Project implemented innovative pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.  The project constructed the first cycle tracks in the City, multiuse path for pedestrians and bicyclists with landscape buffer, and a midblock pedestrian/bicycle crossing with a pedestrian hybrid beacon.  The project included a reduction in travel lanes, median realignment, landscaping, green bicycle boxes and conflict striping, K71 flexible traffic bollards, and ADA improvements.

Suggested Award Summary:

The Merrimac Way Active Transportation Improvement Project implemented innovative pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along the full length of the corridor.  The project constructed the first cycle tracks in the City, multiuse paths for pedestrians and bicyclists, and a midblock pedestrian/bicycle crossing with a pedestrian hybrid beacon (HAWK).  The project included a reduction in travel lanes, street rehabilitation, median realignment, landscaping, green bicycle striping, and ADA improvements. The design was completed in 2020 and construction completed in August 2021. 

City staff engaged the community to identify safety improvements on Merrimac.  On April 21, 2018, the City of Costa Mesa partnered with the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and Orange Coast College to host a tactile urbanism demonstration pilot project titled, “Explore Merrimac” to demonstrate proposed bicycle facility improvements on Merrimac Way, including cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes. The project was showcased for a month, which provided an opportunity to test bicycle facility infrastructure improvement options for Merrimac Way and encourage residents and students to walk and bike in the area. Community feedback was collected during the “Explore Merrimac” event and throughout the duration of the demonstration project including 93 surveys.  98 percent of the survey respondents were in support of making the improvements permanent and 96 percent of the survey respondents felt the improvements made the street feel more safe and inviting.  Speed surveys conducted during the pilot project found an overall 15 % reduction in speed.  The public feedback and evaluation of the demonstration project were incorporated into the final design of the active transportation improvements on Merrimac Way. 

Project Highlights include:
• First cycle tracks in the City of Costa Mesa
• New multi-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists with landscape buffer
• New green bicycle boxes and green bicycle conflict striping
• ADA improvements
• 101 green K71 flexible traffic bollards installed
• Road diet implemented to reduce the number of travel lanes from 4 to 2 lanes

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