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Nature Has Played a Role in Jamboree Project Delays

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

Please let us, the citizens of Irvine, know the real story behind the Jamboree Road street-widening project.

I moved back to Irvine in August of 1994 and it was a mess then. Here we are one year later and it’s still not finished.

I find it difficult to believe this mess was caused by a strike. There are other construction projects around the city that seem to have been completed, so what gives?

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Saul Leibow

Irvine

You’re right, there is more than a strike at fault here.

The first problem, according to project manager Russ Thiele, was this year’s unusually long and wet rainy season, which began in January and lasted well into spring.

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“Unfortunately,” Thiele said, “the construction area has a clay soil, and each time it rained, the water got into the soil and took weeks and weeks to dry out.”

The result: a months-long delay in any work at all.

Then in July, Thiele said, the construction equipment operators went on strike. That was settled only two weeks ago. The contractor immediately “moved in with full crews,” Thiele said, “and he’s out there working now.”

Current projections call for the project, which will widen about a mile of Jamboree Road from Main Street to Barranca Parkway, to be completed by the end of December, with cleanup and minor landscaping continuing through the first part of January.

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“We’re sorry for the inconvenience,” Thiele said. “We think it will be a nice street when it’s completed.”

Dear Street Smart:

Just one question. When will the construction of the Santa Ana Freeway in Santa Ana be completed?

Sameer Khan, age 13

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Huntington Beach

Some of it already has been completed.

Several new connectors, which allow drivers to go from the Santa Ana Freeway to the Costa Mesa Freeway, have opened in the last nine months, Caltrans spokeswoman Maureena Duran-Rojas said. Earlier this month, Caltrans also opened the county’s first car-pool transit-way, a 60-foot-high car-pool lane connecting the two freeways.

Just last week, workers opened the Grand Avenue “drop ramp,” an on-ramp allowing car-poolers to enter the southbound Santa Ana Freeway car-pool lane from the street. And later this week, they hope to open a ramp allowing drivers on Bake Parkway to get on the northbound San Diego or Santa Ana freeways, bypassing the infamous El Toro Y.

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Work still to be completed includes the addition of several more drop ramps and a transit-way connecting the Santa Ana and Orange freeways. That is supposed to be finished by the middle of next year.

A young person such as yourself, Duran-Rojas said, is likely to especially appreciate the car-pooling features of the planned improvements.

“A 13-year-old is probably car-pooling because he doesn’t have a license,” she said. “This will set a pattern for car-pooling in the future.”

Dear Street Smart:

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I work at the AT&T; building at Alton Parkway and Irvine Center Drive in the Irvine Spectrum.

There are no crosswalks for the employees who park in the lot across Gateway Boulevard. For a while, the Irvine Police Department ticketed people who crossed the street where the crosswalk is missing. It was idiotic to think that people would walk 100 yards to the corner of Gateway and Alton to cross with the light when they can cross at the intersection to the building.

The reason for my concern now is that with the new movie theaters opening on Fortune [the Edwards 21 Megaplex, which opened last week], it is going to create a much more dangerous situation, with much more traffic on those streets. I hope that something can be done before someone is struck by a car. Let me know what you think our chances are now for a crosswalk.

Glen Gemigniani

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Irvine

Not very good, according to Conrad Lapinski, the city’s traffic engineer. Although it is no longer illegal to cross Gateway to your building without benefit of a crosswalk (the city ordinance was changed in 1991), the city has no plans to add a crosswalk. The reason, Lapinski wrote in a letter to Street Smart, is that studies have shown “that it may be unsafe to paint crosswalks because of the ‘false sense of security’ they create.”

“Contrary to public opinion,” he wrote, “two painted lines do not provide any added protection for pedestrians. Experience has shown pedestrians may not be as cautious when crossing at a marked crosswalk and, thus, a great disservice has resulted. In fact, the trend across the nation has been to remove crosswalks.”

Anyone still fearful of crossing the street without a crosswalk, Lapinski said, “continues to have the option of walking the extra distance” to the signal at Gateway Boulevard and Alton Parkway.

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