Bicyclists gain ground in fight for Costa Mesa streets, as city nabs $7.9M for new bike lanes

A rendering shows a Class I bicycle trail being planned for Adams Avenue.
A conceptual rendering shows a Class I bicycle trail being planned for Adams Avenue, from the Santa Ana River to Royal Palm Drive.
(Courtesy of the city of Costa Mesa)

Bicyclists forced to contend with vehicles for space on Costa Mesa’s streets gained some ground last week, when officials announced the city received $7.9 million in grant funding to build new bike lanes along Adams Avenue and Fairview Road.

Distributed by the Orange County Transportation Authority as part of a $55 million 2023 Orange County Complete Streets grant program, the funding will assist in the design and construction of three sections of roadway.

For the record:

4:50 p.m. Feb. 21, 2024An earlier version of this story included incorrect costs for the projects identified by the city.

One $4.2-million grant will fund a multipurpose Class I bicycle trail along Adams Avenue, from the Santa Ana River to Royal Palm Drive that will run parallel with street traffic. The largest of the three projects, work could begin in fiscal year 2026-27.


A second segment along Adams, from Harbor Boulevard to Fairview Road, will be equipped with a Class IV separated bike lane that will offer users a lane of travel unobstructed by vehicle traffic. That project will use $1.76 million in grant funding, with construction slated to begin sometime next fiscal year.

A third section running along Fairview Road, from Adams Avenue south to Fair Drive, which will also feature a Class IV separated bike lane, is being funded with a $1.94-million grant. Design on that project will begin later this year with construction scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2024-25.

Public Works Director Raja Sethuraman said the city will spend about $2.2 million in matching funds to complete the three segments, which will help close gaps between earlier disconnected road improvement projects to make bicycle transportation safer and more seamless.

“Once you do these projects they form a connected system along with the projects we’ve completed over the past few years,” Sethuraman said Tuesday, citing similar efforts on Merrimac Way and Arlington Drive.

“It keeps working toward [our] doing more and more for these to form a more fully connected system of high-quality bikeways which, in the long term, will get more people to use bike transportation,” he said.

OCTA officials will be distributing the funds, which derive from the federal Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Block Grant program and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program and come to Orange County through the Southern California Assn. of Governments.

Costa Mesa resident Ralph Taboada chairs the city’s Active Transportation Committee and serves on the board of the nonprofit Costa Mesa Alliance for Better Streets (CMABS). He said the three segments, once completed, will do a lot to make streets safer.

“There’s a lot of connectivity coming here, and that’s the key,” he said Wednesday. “If you have connectivity, pedestrians and bicyclists can get more safely from point A to point B.”

A retiree, Taboada tries to make biking his primary mode of transportation, so he sees firsthand how dangerous it can be to interface with vehicles.

“It’s challenging at times,” he said. “A lot of it depends on motorists. Some motorists are very courteous, if you will, or conscious of cyclists and allow us our space. Other motorists just couldn’t care less.”

Marc Vukcevich serves on the CMABS board with Taboada and is also a bicycle enthusiast. He said the new grant-funded projects are a huge win for transportation advocates and for residents and recreationalists in Costa Mesa.

“It helps complete and fulfill a network that needs to be built out,” he said Wednesday. “People keep dying on our roadways, and people keep getting hit. [These projects] will fundamentally make roads safer; that’s what makes me proud.”

In a Feb. 15 citywide release, Mayor John Stephens — appointed in January to serve on OCTA’s Board of Directors — said he was grateful the will and the funding came together the way they did.

“Costa Mesa’s Public Works department did a wonderful job positioning the city for this needed funding,” Stephens said. “These funds will improve our connectivity throughout the city, especially through our growing bicycle network.”