A 7-year-old dream of creating a network of efficient super-streets for road-weary motorists is still years away from becoming a reality countywide, but drivers in the northwest part of the county could see some relief by fall.
Work is continuing on a stretch of Beach Boulevard from Stark Street in Huntington Beach to Lincoln Avenue in Buena Park. Road improvements include widening the street to four lanes in each direction, adding turn lanes and bus turn-outs, eliminating parking pockets and coordinating traffic signals.
The 6.7-mile stretch north of the San Diego Freeway should be complete by September, according to Mona Ziada, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Transportation Authority. A smaller strip of the highway under construction south of the freeway should be finished by the end of February.
The roadwork represents just one part of a planned 19.5-mile super-street along Beach Boulevard--also known as Highway 39--between Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach and Imperial Highway in La Habra.
In the next phase of the plan, Ziada said, planners will likely concentrate on improving Irvine Center Drive, which connects with Moulton Parkway, Street of the Golden Lantern and Main Street as it winds through south Orange County to Coast Highway. But those improvements are not likely to begin for another 3 1/2 years, she said.
"It all depends on funding. The funds for these projects are so limited," Ziada said. "Even today, we don't know if we're going to have the money to complete the ones that are in the planning (stages)."
In 1984, the county Transportation Commission approved a plan to create a web of 21 super-streets covering a total of 220 miles. The super-street project is being funded largely by Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1990.
County officials targeted Beach Boulevard, which handles about 65,000 vehicles a day, as their first project.
If Irvine Center Drive is the next street to be streamlined, it would likely be followed by Katella Avenue from the San Gabriel River Freeway to the Costa Mesa Freeway, or Imperial Highway from Beach Boulevard to Yorba Linda Boulevard, Ziada said. All three routes are in the planning stages.
The city of Huntington Beach is handling the widening of Beach Boulevard within the city limits south of the San Diego Freeway. A second phase of construction along that route, from Stark Street to Ellis Avenue, won't begin for about a year, said Eric Charlonne, civil engineer assistant for Huntington Beach. The question of when Beach Boulevard will be widened from Ellis Avenue to the ocean is more uncertain.
"Phase 3 . . . is not a sure thing from what I understand," Charlonne said. "It's slated for way down the road."
When work resumes on Beach Boulevard Monday after a holiday recess, motorists will lose one lane in each direction for up to 11 hours a day. Alternate routes include Newland Street-Dale Street, Golden West Street-Knott Avenue and Western Avenue.
Some of the other roads slated for construction over the next two decades include Harbor Boulevard from Imperial Highway to the Costa Mesa Freeway, Jamboree Road-Myford Road from the Santa Ana to the Corona del Mar freeways and Laguna Canyon Road from the Laguna Freeway to Coast Highway, Ziada said.
Beach Boulevard En Route to a Super-Street Motorists along Beach Boulevard can expect to see lane closure signs posted through fall as construction crews proceed with the super-street project.
MEDIAN REALIGNMENT: Medians along most of the stretch will be made smaller or rebuilt to allow for road expansion. Work begins after Monday and should be completed by March.
PAVEMENT REPLACEMENT: Half-mile sections of decaying pavement will be ripped out and replaced with fresh asphalt between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. from mid-March through the end of April.
PAVEMENT CAPPING: A 2-inch layer of asphalt will be added to pavement and new stripes painted. Work will be done by day to ensure a smooth surface. Requires closure of one traffic lane. Work begins end of April, finishes end of June.
SUPER-STREET OPENS: Unless delayed, by September, 1992, the 6.7-mile stretch will have four traffic lanes in each direction, two left-turn lanes at five key intersections and synchronized signals.
Note: Completion times subject to charge pending weather, utility delays or other complications. Delays will push back start dates.
Source: Orange County Environmental Management Agency