COUNTYWIDE : Improvements Begin on Beach Boulevard

Traffic-choked Beach Boulevard is getting help. Work was launched Thursday on a yearlong construction project to make Beach into a wider, safer “super street,” the first such streamlined surface road in Orange County.

Beach Boulevard runs north-south from the Orange County line in La Habra to the ocean, at Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. Along the way, it carries about 80,000 cars a day--more traffic than any other surface street in Orange County, according to the county’s Transportation Commission.

For four years, county Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder has worked to get Beach Boulevard expanded and streamlined so that traffic would move faster and easier. At groundbreaking ceremonies on Thursday morning in Huntington Beach, Wieder proudly heaved the first shovel of dirt.

“They say that good things are worth waiting for, and this is a good thing,” Wieder said to a group of about 50 people at the intersection of Beach and Edinger Avenue.


Wieder recalled that the county Transportation Commission began planning for super streets four years ago, after county voters had rejected Measure A, a ballot proposal for more taxes to improve highways. “After the defeat of Measure A, we did go back to the drawing board,” she said.

Delays, she said, have been caused by lack of money for the project and by difficulties in getting the 10 cities along Beach Boulevard to agree to the plans. No parking will be allowed on Beach after it becomes a super street, and some cities initially balked at that idea.

Transportation Commission officials said 19 1/2 miles of Beach Boulevard, from Pacific Coast Highway to Imperial Highway, ultimately will have synchronized stoplights, additional lanes, better turn areas and other safety improvements. The initial phase of the project calls for work between Ellis Avenue in Huntington Beach and Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim. That phase will cost $12.8 million, and work is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 1991. The redevelopment of the remainder of Beach Boulevard will then proceed.

Huntington Beach Mayor Thomas J. Mays spoke at the ceremonies and praised the project, which he said is vital to “a very important commercial area” of his city. Part of the super-street work, at the corner of Edinger and Beach, will improve access to Huntington Center, a mall that is one of the biggest sales-tax producers for Huntington Beach.

Keith McKean, director of the state Department of Transportation, told the audience that the super-street project is “a beginning of what I see as a renaissance in commercial development, making access to commercial areas more feasible during peak hours.”

Three more super streets in the county are scheduled after Beach Boulevard is completed. They are Imperial Boulevard, Katella Avenue and a super street linking Edinger Avenue, Irvine Center Drive, Moulton Parkway and Street of the Golden Lantern.