Motorists planning to travel on Sand Canyon Avenue, just south of the Santa Ana (5) Freeway in Irvine, will want to pick an alternate route this week.
There will be a construction-related road closure between Oak Canyon and Laguna Canyon roads.
The closure, which was slated to start at 8 p.m. Friday, is in effect until 5 a.m. Aug. 6 and will require travelers to detour around the area via Jeffrey Road and Irvine Center Drive.
The closure is part of the city of Irvine's long-term, $56-million Sand Canyon Undercrossing project, a grade separation of the street and train routes giving vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists safer and more efficient travel under the railroad tracks, according to the city's website.
"It is the natural evolution of improving our major thoroughfares as our city grows," Irvine spokesman Craig Reem said in an e-mail Thursday. "And that growth moves toward Sand Canyon Avenue in terms of residential and business and Orange County Great Park development."
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version misspelled Craig Reem's last name.
Beginning in mid-2011, the Orange County Transportation Authority ranked the undercrossing project as one of the highest priority projects in the county because of the route's frequent use. Funded by state and local sources, as well as by revenue from Measure M — a half-cent sales tax for county transportation improvements — construction is scheduled for completion in 2014.
In addition to the grade separation, the project will also include widening of Sand Canyon from four to six lanes between the 5 Freeway and Oak Canyon, rebuilding the intersection at Sand Canyon and Burt Road, building retaining walls, adding landscaping, and relocating the Walnut Bike Trail, which is closed during the project.
OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said that this segment of the Metrolink was among many along the greater LOSSAN Rail Corridor in need of large-scale improvements. Short for Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo-San Diego, the 351-mile LOSSAN is the second busiest intercity rail corridor in the nation, connecting major Southern California and Central Coast cities along the 5.
"The particular rail line intersecting Sand Canyon is heavily traveled and improvements are always necessary for popular, high traffic routes," Zlotnik said Thursday. "Grade separations are an effective way to improve rail service and benefit the surrounding community. We know that construction is never a good neighbor and it's an unfortunate side effect of having to provide some long-term benefits, but the short-term pain of construction will in the longterm save people time and money."
Businesses in the vicinity, including the Irvine Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, will remain open during construction and regular Southern California Regional Rail Authority Metrolink, Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight services — all passing through the region — will not be affected by the closure.
Matthew Harper, spokesman at Irvine Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, said that the waste collection facility would still be accessible to the public during the closure.
"Our main concern is making sure people can get to and from the collection center," he said Thursday. "We want them to be able to drop off their batteries, pesticides and other household toxic items that could otherwise end up in nearby landfills and the water supply. So, we're working closely with the city during this and trying to make the detour information as available as possible."
The public can register online to receive email and/or text message updates on construction. Specific information on closures near Orange County Great Park's ongoing summer events can be found at http://www.ocgp.org. For more information, call the city's toll-free project help line (855) 777-SAND or visit http://www.cityofirvine.org.