- RBF Consulting, a Company of Michael Baker Corporation
- Project of the Year
- Additional Files
- Additional Information
Alton Parkway Extension
- Project Location:
Irvine and Lake Forest, Calif.
- Project Description:
The $28 million, 2.1 mile Alton Parkway gap closure project is designated as a major six-lane arterial highway on the County’s Foothill Circulation Phasing Plan and the Master Plan of Arterial Highways, and serves as one of the last major arterial connectors to be constructed between Central Orange County and the Eastern Foothill communities of Lake Forest. The six lane roadway’s new section, complete with bike lanes in both directions, features lit medians, bus turn outs, signal synchronization and numerous storm water features to manage water that will run off the roadway. The project also includes a water diversion structure to provide water to the adjacent 12 acre habitat mitigation site and wildlife movement corridor, which connects to the future Great Park wildlife corridor. The project required a comprehensive hydrology and hydraulics study and water quality management plan.
The hydrology and hydraulics report included extensive coordination with the Orange County Flood Control District, Cities, the Great Park and Shea Baker Ranch Associates. The project also included design of on-site storm drain facilities and best management practices (BMPs), as well as regional flood control facilities for Borrego Canyon Wash. A significant element of the project was the avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of impacts to state and federally listed endangered birds, the coastal California Gnatcatcher and the least Bell’s Vireo. A challenging and comprehensive habitat mitigation program was successfully negotiated with six state and federal regulators and included on-site and off-site habitat creation, an animal crossing point under the roadway and financial assurances.
The long anticipated Alton Parkway Extension was one of the largest and most significant recent projects in South Orange County. The completion of the roadway has created a vital linkage within the County, connecting the communities of Irvine to Lake Forest and Foothill Ranch. This project greatly improves overall circulation and regional mobility, with a projected 50,000 average daily trips to traverse the new section of roadway. The new roadway connection improves vehicular movement through the area by reducing the number of cars traveling along Bake Parkway by providing a connection that travelers previously needed to utilize Bake Parkway to achieve.
RBF Consulting (RBF), a Company of Michael Baker Corporation, prepared the Environmental Impact Report, Traffic Analysis and Plans, Specifications and Estimates for both the County of Orange and the City of Lake Forest. The County of Orange was responsible for the design and construction of the roadway from Irvine Boulevard to Commercentre Drive. The City of Lake Forest, in conjunction with Shea Baker Ranch Associates, was responsible for the design and construction of the roadway from Commercentre Drive to Towne Centre Drive near the 241 Toll Road. The construction of both projects was performed by Sukut Construction, Inc.
- Project Justification:
The Alton Parkway project is an innovative roadway gap closure project, implemented with multiple partnerships, and constructed for the future. The goal was to implement the last major link in the Foothill Circulation Phasing Plan (FCPP) and provide crucial traffic circulation improvements to the region. The true benefit of closing the Alton Parkway gap from Irvine Boulevard to Towne Centre Drive, near the SR-241 toll road, was connecting communities and people.
Furthermore, the project objectives also included flood protection and environmental benefits. The theme of connectivity extended to wildlife. The project improved Borrego Canyon Wash, a regional flood control facility, and provided a critical link to the future wildlife movement corridor. When completed by others, the wildlife corridor will ultimately stretch from the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to the Limestone-Whiting Wilderness Park.
Difficult and challenging projects cannot succeed without partners—and the Alton Parkway project was no exception. In a true example of public-private partnership, the County of Orange partnered with Shea Baker Ranch Associates to jointly fund the Environmental Impact Report and regulatory permitting. In addition, the County partnered with the Department of the Navy to construct the roadway through the former MCAS El Toro during the active base closure and groundwater remediation process; and with the Irvine Ranch Water District and other utility owners to install backbone utilities.
Ultimately, the Alton Parkway project represents the future. It represents the future growth of the foothill communities; the future entrance to the Musick Correctional Facility; the future utility needs of the region; and the future wildlife movement corridor.
The Alton Parkway Extension was a complex project, affecting numerous agencies and other stakeholders, requiring timely and agile responses from the project team to many requests and revisions. The Project posed a unique set of challenges for design and construction. The roadway alignment was severely constrained due to its immediate proximity to a portion of lands within the Nature Reserve of Orange County, the proposed El Toro Federal Wildlife Refuge, the Borrego Canyon Wash, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department James A. Musick correctional facility, and the ongoing restoration activities by the Navy within the former MCAS El Toro. This project also included the design of a wildlife corridor that will provide a connection to the City of Irvine’s Great Park.
To help mitigate the design constraints of connecting a roadway over what was once the MCAS El Toro, a Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) and Habitat Conservation Planning (HCP) area, and the Borrego Canyon Wash, a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) was developed to evaluate several roadway alignment alternatives. GIS data was created for the vegetation, design constraints, property boundaries, drainage features and facilities. GIS overlay operations were performed merging the vegetation, constraints, parcels and alignment corridor for each alternative. Detailed maps and area calculations for each alternative were created and posted to a live website for real time viewing by the project team and agency staff.
In order to successfully complete this project on the County and City’s schedule, and to achieve stakeholder objectives, extensive coordination was required with many agencies and jurisdictions, including the County of Orange; Cities of Lake Forest and Irvine; Orange County Sheriff’s Department; Irvine Ranch Water District for the water district facility; the U.S. Navy as a major property owner; Shea Baker Ranch Properties as the developer/property owner; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the California Department of Fish and Game; the Regional Water Quality Control Board; Department of Toxic Substances Control; US Environmental Protection Agency; Nature Reserve of Orange County; adjacent commercial property owners; and Southern California Edison. The project required extensive coordination of construction phasing to maintain continuous domestic water service, especially to the Sheriff’s Musick Correctional Facility, and to avoid disruption to Metropolitan Water District’s Allen-McCullough water line servicing south Orange County.
Thorough coordination and effective communication were necessary to keep all parties informed and on schedule to meet the client’s aggressive completion date.
- Special Circumstances:
This complex, multi-agency effort required extensive coordination with numerous stakeholders, property owners, environmental regulators, public agencies, law enforcement officials and consultants. The project led to new relationships being forged and the strengthening of existing relationships with clients and the community.
The project was an exemplary example of a public-private partnership. The County of Orange partnered with Shea Baker Ranch Associates to jointly fund the Environmental Impact Report and the regulatory permitting. The County also developed a close relationship with the Great Park to coordinate the land transfer from the Department of the Navy and obtain critical federal approval of project.
The complex land ownership over and around the roadway alignment necessitated close coordination with the Department of the Navy, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Irvine Ranch Water District, and several other property owners. A portion of the construction encroached on the Sheriff’s active Musick Correctional Facility and special security measures and screening were necessary for all construction workers.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service presented the project team with a certificate honoring the measures taken in project to protect the wildlife in the Borrego Canyon Wash and nature reserve area.
APWA Southern California Chapter recently recognized the County of Orange and the City of Lake Forest with a B.E.S.T. 2012 Project of the Year award for the Alton Parkway Extension project.
- Project Attachments:
The final plans were signed and the project construction completed with a 30 percent bid cost savings to the client from the engineers’ estimates. In addition, this high profile project had underlying political motivations due to heavy traffic congestion in the region, which necessitated an aggressive schedule for construction. Ultimately, the project was completed in a timely manner and opened to the public on June 20, 2012.
- Award Citation::
The Alton Parkway Extension is a critical arterial roadway gap closure project in Orange County, connecting communities in Irvine and Lake Forest. The project provides regional traffic congestion relief and innovative environmental protection measures. It is the last major element of the Foothill Circulation Phasing Plan from the 1980s.
- Suggested Award Summary:
The $28 million, 2.1 mile Alton Parkway project is an innovative roadway gap closure project, implemented with multiple partnerships, and constructed for the future. The goal was to implement the last major link in the Foothill Circulation Phasing Plan and improve regional traffic circulation. Alton Parkway is designated as a major six-lane arterial highway on the County’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways, and serves as one of the last major arterial connectors constructed between Central Orange County and the Eastern Foothill communities of Lake Forest. The true benefit of completing Alton Parkway from Irvine Boulevard to Towne Centre Drive was connecting communities and people. Delivered on time, the project realized a cost savings of $15 million.
Furthermore, the project ambitions also included flood protection and environmental benefits. The theme of connectivity extended to wildlife. The project provided a critical link to the future wildlife movement corridor. When completed by others, the corridor will stretch from Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to Limestone-Whiting Wilderness Park.
Key project features include 100-year regional flood control improvements; 12 acre wildlife corridor and mitigation site; a unique flow splitter structure for the mitigation site; wildlife under-crossing; off-site habitat mitigation; backbone utilities; and a comprehensive GIS database.
Difficult and challenging projects cannot succeed without partners—and Alton was no exception. In an example of public-private partnership, the County of Orange partnered with Shea Baker Ranch Associates to jointly fund the EIR and regulatory permitting. In addition, the County partnered with the Department of the Navy to construct the roadway through the former MCAS El Toro, and with IRWD to install backbone utilities.
Ultimately, the project represents the future - the future growth of the foothill communities, the future entrance to the Musick Correctional Facility, the future utility needs of the region, and the future wildlife movement corridor.