Orange County Branch Newsletter
At precisely 1:27 pm on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 the 2.1 mile gap of Alton Parkway in the Cities of Irvine and Lake Forest officially opened to the public. The much anticipated roadway opening was welcomed by a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier in day at the new intersection of Alton Parkway and Commercentre Drive in the City of Lake Forest. OC Public Works and the City of Lake Forest hosted the event that included statements from 5th District Supervisor Patricia C. Bates and 3rd District Supervisor Bill Campbell along with Lake Forest City Manager Robert C. Dunek. Approximately 250 people attended the event including elected officials, project stakeholders, project consultant and members of the public.
The project, which was under construction for 21 months, closes the 2.1 mile gap between the former Alton Parkway termini just south of the State Route (SR) 241 toll road and at Irvine Boulevard, thereby providing another link between Interstate (I) 5 and SR-241 and improving traffic in the area. The County of Orange was responsible for implementing the project between Irvine Boulevard in Irvine and Commercentre Drive in Lake Forest; the City of Lake Forest was responsible for implementing the project between Commercentre Drive and Towne Centre Drive within its jurisdiction.
The nearly $28 million project dates back to 1981 when it was placed on the Orange County Master Plan of Arterial Highways. In 1988 the project became part of the Foothill Circulation Phase Plan (FCPP). The FCPP as developed by the County in partnership with major landowners in southeastern Orange County to provide funding for regional transportation improvements.
Major components of the project included the construction of 1,500 linear feet of 12 foot wide by 9 foot high double reinforced concrete box culvert for regional flood protection, a flow splitter structure, 72-inch diameter reinforced concrete pipe for wildlife to cross under the new roadway, new Musick Correctional Facility security fence, street lighting, bio retention water quality treatment control BMP’s, new Irvine Ranch Water District utilities, dry utilities and the construction of a 14.4 acre planted and irrigated wildfire corridor mitigation site.
Project challenges included working with 10 property owners including the Department of the Navy within the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro property, impacts to federally and State listed endangered species habitat, working next to the Musick Correctional Facility, construction in the Borrego Canyon Wash, complex environmental regulatory agencies approvals and major utilities relocations.
Alton Parkway is expected to carry 20,000 trips per day with traffic studies predicting up to 50,000 trips per day in the future as nearby development occurs. The new roadway will ease traffic on the parallel Bake Parkway, which is expected to see its traffic reduce from 43,000 trips per day to 36,000 trips per day.