Orange County Branch Newsletter
Orange County Loop
Sherry Weinmeier, PE, LEED AP, ENV SP
Active transportation and improved quality of life—our government leaders from the local level to the federal level recognize these are important for a sustainable future. That’s why funding has been made available through various grant programs and why our local leaders are preparing studies and seeking additional funding for 28 miles of bike lanes and trails in Orange County that will ultimately form a nearly 70-mile loop through North Orange County known as the OC Loop.
The County of Orange has established a strong initiative to expand the County's bicycle network to meet the needs of recreational users and commuters. The initiative fulfills the firm commitment of the leadership of the County Board of Supervisors and the Orange County Transportation Authority toward active transportation and high quality commuter and recreational bicycling facilities. The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) joined this initiative by funding preliminary engineering for the OC Loop. The OC Loop is a key early action project in this initiative. It connects and extends several regional bikeways to provide a continuous 66-mile loop around the northern portion of Orange County.
Stantec’s Orange County office worked closely with OC Parks to provide transportation planning and preliminary engineering feasibility studies for the unfinished project segments that will connect several existing regional bicycle and recreational trails, including the Santa Ana River Bikeway, the Coyote Creek Bikeway, and the Pacific Coast Bikeway/Bike Lane. This loop will also incorporate a planned and committed 10-mile bikeway along the UP Railroad corridor through the cities of La Habra and Brea, to be connected with an existing bikeway in Yorba Linda. The project Overview Map below shows the existing network and the lettered study segments. Additional information may also be found at the following OCTA website:
The project developed concept alignments and cost estimates to provide missing connections or extensions of these regional facilities. Several of the connections posed challenging feasibility issues, due to absence of a logical and clear right of way, seeking to minimize interference with vehicle traffic, and the desire for a high quality trail experience. The project team worked with local governments, key stakeholders, and county leadership to develop consensus around a project definition, concept design, funding, and implementation strategy. The currently existing or committed bikeways did not pose some of the design issues that the gap closure project will require. Construction cost estimates were very important in guiding applications for future grant funding.
One of the project goals was to ensure a high quality walking and bicycling experience. While early implementation may provide spartan facilities—consisting of little more than a paved bikeway for bicycling, walking and jogging—the project placed emphasis upon providing treatments that enhance the user experience. These included landscaping, grade separations in lieu of intersections requiring users to stop or wait, rest stops, and guidance information on side bikeways, bike lanes, riding and hiking trails, nearby services, and points of interest near the route. Some portions of the Loop adjoin heavily used arterial roadways. Urban bikeway treatments, such as separated bikeways were employed to facilitate an appropriate environment for users.
Five (5) Major Study Areas were analyzed, including:
The estimated design and construction cost of the OC Loop is roughly $87 million for the segments studied as outlined below.
After completion of feasibility studies on the OC Loop, Orange County and cities can use the grant-ready information provided to secure funding and advance the design of each segment required to complete the loop. The schedule for implementation varies by county and city, with some segments in progress now and others yet to be programmed at the local level.