Pedestrian bridges, shuttle system and emergency vehicle programs considered.
BY SONYA SMITH IRVINE WORLD NEWS
City leaders want to make the industrial, office and residential area near John Wayne Airport less congested and more accessible.
An Irvine Business Complex task force is working with city staff to draw up plans for pedestrian bridges, a mass-transit system and an emergency vehicle traffic signal safety program. The shuttle plan is expected to be presented to the City Council late July; the other plans will be presented to the council in September with park, trail, parking and other plans.
“We’ve been talking about this stuff for 20 years and I now feel likes we’re going to get this done,” said Larry Agran, a councilman and member of the task force.
The proposed plans:
Shuttle system The city would own and operate a small-bus system serving just the Irvine Business Complex with links to the Tustin train station, John Wayne Airport and UC Irvine Bus Shuttle system. Early plans suggest the buses would run between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. with regular wait times of 15 minutes, with 10-minute waits at midday (10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.). Staff is considering buses that run on compressed natural gas, instead of gasoline, and with storage for luggage for airport travelers.
Bridges Staff wants to build pedestrian (and possibly bicycle) bridges over busy streets in the complex. The first would be over Jamboree Road at Michelson Drive. Staff is considering seven designs – including cable-stayed, steel arch truss and cast in-place concrete. Some task force members suggested a design contest be held for the bridge. Agran suggested a “Bridges of Jamboree” project. Elevators would be installed at both bridge ends to accommodate people with disabilities.
Opticom Upgrading traffic signals in the area so that emergency vehicles (fire, police and paramedics) can change signals to red to stop traffic. One such “Opticom” signal exists at the Barranca Parkway and Millikan Avenue intersection. The staff is proposing 16 other signals using the Opticom system.
Sarah Catz, director of UC Irvine’s Center for Urban Infrastructure and a resident in the Marquee tower in the business complex, supports the ideas.
“I believe it’s the first step in putting together a great transit system,” Catz said.
She says a well-planned mass transit system is key in developing an urban area – as developers and some city leaders want for the Irvine Business Complex. The key to the shuttle system, Catz said, is choosing the right stops so the buses travel to where people want to go.
But, Charles Lave, a UC Irvine professor emeritus of economics, said mass transit does not work and certainly will not work in the business complex.
“(The shuttle system) is well-intentioned, but it cannot accomplish the goals they’ve set out for it,” Lave said.
He said that people use mass transit when that is the only option – because people either cannot afford a vehicle or when traffic congestion or parking prices make driving a vehicle difficult. Lave said people object to using mass transit for a few reasons, including slow service, inconvenient stops and a lack of privacy.
Along with the Irvine Business Complex, Irvine leaders are planning a mass transit system for the city’s other end. A system of either buses, trolleys or a monorail would run between the future Great Park, Irvine train station and Irvine Spectrum. The Irvine Business Complex shuttle system would not directly connect to the Great Park system – but riders could indirectly travel between the two systems via Metrolink offered at the Irvine and Tustin train stations.
Elsewhere in the county, Orange County Transportation Authority and Anaheim officials are visioning a regional transportation hub that would include different modes of transportation, including buses and high-speed trains, to link Anaheim with Los Angeles, Las Vegas, John Wayne Airport and beyond. Planning for the station began in the early 1990s, but most requests for public money for the project have failed. OCTA purchased land for the center last year.
July 11: Task force meets at City Hall to discuss parks and trails. August: Task force meets and discusses plans for measuring traffic and setting up town hall meetings. September: Task force reviews business complex strategy and presents plans to city commissions and council for review. Spring 2008: When city staff hopes to launch a shuttle system. Source: City of Irvine
To vote on whether you would use the proposed shuttle system and to see some city renderings of several concepts being evaluated for a pedestrian bridge, go to http://www.ocregister.com/news/ibc.
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