IRVINE — In a few years, cyclists will be able to ride the entire stretch along Jeffrey Road without sharing the path with fast-driving cars.
The city plans to extend the Jeffrey Open Space Trail from Walnut Avenue near Interstate 5 down to Barranca Parkway, as well as build a bridge across the freeway. That will close a 1.2-mile gap and complete the seamless pedestrian and bicycle path from Portola Parkway to Interstate 405.
“We’ve always been a family-friendly city that places a great value on recreation,” Planning Commissioner Anthony Kuo said at an information meeting hosted by the city Wednesday, July 12. “And what’s important to families is the ability for moms and dads and kids, and grandparents to go out and enjoy themselves, do it safely.”
The 76-acre linear park trail features paved paths, shade trees, benches, grass areas and historical markers about the region’s history. Three bridges and two undercrossings allow users to avoid stoplights along the six-lane Jeffrey Road. The topography even muffles the noise from cars.
There’s also a 0.8-mile existing trail from the I-405 interchange to Barranca. The extension project will connect these two trails.
The city’s proposed pathway won’t offer as many amenities as the northern park trail. It will feature lighting and a rest area at the corner of Jeffrey and Barranca with shade, benches, trash receptacles, a water station and bikeways map, according to the plan.
Because the extension won’t feature bridges and underpasses, users will have to stop at traffic lights.
Still, cyclists who attended Wednesday’s meeting said the improvements, especially the I-5 bridge, will help them safely get around town without a car.
“It will add a sense of security from outside traffic and just add interest to the trail in general,” said Brandon Martinez, 21, who commutes from Lake Forest to Tustin through Irvine. “They are doing a good job in terms of being progressive and staying ahead of the (game), allowing bicyclists to ride off the road or being more accommodating to cyclists than other cities I’ve seen.”
“It’s a major spine of the whole bicycling network,” said Bill Sellin, a board of director of Orange County Bicycle Coalition. “(The extension) will connect a link that’s going to allow people to develop a 35-mile loop around Irvine with never having to ride on a street, once it’s completed.
“It’s going to open up all kinds of options to get from Northwood all the way down toward the south end of town. If people want to pursue active transportation and keep their car at home and not fight the traffic on the street, this would give them a lot more motivation.”
The extension project will be reviewed by the city’s transportation and planning commissions before going to the City Council for approval in the fall. Construction, which is expected to take nine to 15 months to complete, could begin in winter 2018, according to city staff.
The city is seeking public comments on the project through July 24. Submit written comments to Associate Transportation Analyst Cheryl Lea at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact Lea at 949-724-7313 or visit cityofirvine.org.
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Photo by Kevin Sullivan for the Orange County Register / Southern California News Group