Council to Discuss Toll Road Bypass


The City Council tonight will consider granting the county authorization to build a toll road bypass that council members say they oppose but previously approved under threat of losing millions of dollars in road improvement funds.

The bypass is intended to provide a toll-free route around the 1.5-mile section of Newport Coast Drive that will become part of the San Joaquin Hills toll road. Residents of Irvine’s Turtle Rock and University Hills neighborhoods are opposed to the bypass, which they say will bring thousands of commuters into their communities.

Last March, council members agreed under protest to amend the city’s General Plan to include the bypass. But city leaders also put county transportation officials on notice that Irvine would not “fund or initiate construction” of the route.


The Irvine council now is being asked to declare parts of Newport Coast and Bonita Canyon drives county highways, which would give the county legal authorization to build the $10.5-million bypass route.

Council members also are angry that the county is postponing two Irvine bridge-widening projects totaling $920,000 to use the funds for construction of the bypass.

Councilman Greg Smith said questions remain whether the city would actually lose Measure M transportation funds if the council refuses to approve the county’s plans.

“Our staff report indicates that Measure M funds are not at risk,” Smith said. “And yet the county and [the Orange County Transportation Authority] have said separately that this is not the case, that we are indeed at risk. Things are becoming muddier rather than clearer.”