Officials from the Irvine Co. and local and state agencies hailed government-private sector cooperation during Friday morning's official opening of a new interchange of the Santa Ana Freeway and Alton Parkway in Irvine.
Dana Reed, undersecretary of the state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, called the joint venture a forerunner of "what is certain to be a new trend and a continuing trend in transportation in California."
Irvine Co. President Thomas Nielsen also praised the multimillion-dollar project, saying it represented a "tremendous improvement for transportation accessibility to this part of our county."
Nielsen said his company paid for "all the hard construction costs" of the project, which included $4.5 million for the interchange, $2.5 million for the land--donated by the company--and another $3.6 million for a mile-long stretch of road connecting the interchange with the existing Alton Parkway.
The City of Irvine will contribute to the project through assessment district funds fees levied in and near Irvine Spectrum, a major industrial park to be developed which will be serviced by the interchange. Nielsen said the company plans to sell or develop much of the land in the district in the 20-year assessment period, thus passing on the fees to buyers and tenants.
The interchange, 11 years in the planning stage and 18 months in construction, has been billed as a major steppingstone to industry-government cooperation. A proposed state transportation improvement program includes $300 million in funds provided by private or local sources, Reed said.
County and Irvine officials hope the new freeway access will relieve congestion at two existing interchanges: Lake Forest Drive on Interstate 5 and Irvine Center Drive at the San Diego Freeway.