One of my primary policy objectives — a major expansion of iShuttle routes and a significant increase in Irvine commuter transportation choices — will soon be realized.
For the past year, Irvine City Staff has been working with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to create new iShuttle routes and obtain new vehicles.
I’m excited to announce that two new iShuttle routes have now been established and six new iShuttle vehicles have been procured!
Route testing is being conducted, schedules are being developed, and signage is ordered.
OCTA will market the new routes and oversee the drivers.
Route E will operate out of the Irvine Train Station, providing service to the east and west, including the Irvine Spectrum.
Route F will operate out of the Tustin Train Station and provide service in the west, including the Irvine Business Complex.
Ninety percent of the funding for the new routes and vehicles will be covered by Orange County Measure M2, Project V. City Transportation Management funding and City partners will also provide funds.
The new routes will bring the total number of iShuttle routes to six, a 50% increase.
The iShuttle expansion will make it more convenient for employees and visitors to move around Irvine’s two large business districts without a car and is expected to have a significant positive impact on Irvine’s commuter traffic congestion.
Service is expected to begin in late fall 2018 or early 2019.
Going forward, I’d like to see more iShuttle service added. For example, a route that would like people from UCI to the Spectrum would be good for both Irvine traffic reduction and for UCI students and Sprectum businesses.
I often get questions from Irvine residents about traffic light synchronization. To help answer these questions, I enlisted the help of my appointee to the Irvine Transportation Commission, Ken Montgomery.
Irvine Transportation Commissioner Ken Montgomergy
Ken knows more about these matters than just about anyone. He is a retired civil engineer with more than 40 years of experience in managing public works and trafﬁc and transportation issues. He served as Director of Public Works for three Southern California cities: Norwalk, Redondo Beach, and Laguna Niguel.
Ken retired from the City of Laguna Niguel in 2009 after 18 years as that City’s ﬁrst Director of Public Works/City Engineer.
Ken has been closely following transportation and traffic issues in Irvine for decades and has served as a member of the Irvine Transportation Commission since it was re-established in May 2017, initially as its Chair.
Here is what Ken has to say about traffic light synchronization in Irvine:
All of the city’s traffic signals on the major corridors in Irvine are already synchronized.
There are another 40 Traffic signals at freeway on and off ramps that are owned and operated by Caltrans. Those 40 signals are in the process of being upgraded so they can be coordinated with Irvine’s signals on those specific corridors.
What is Traffic Signal Coordination?
Traffic Signal Synchronization is a traffic engineering technique of matching the green light times for a series of intersections to enable the maximum number of vehicles to pass through, thereby reducing stops and delays experienced by motorists.
Synchronizing traffic signals ensures a better flow of traffic and minimizes gas consumption and pollutant emissions.
Driving on a corridor that is synchronized does not means that a driver will get all green lights. Rather, the system attempts to maximize the efficiency of the system favoring the heaviest traffic directions depending on the time of day.
For instance, Jamboree Road traffic is twice as heavy in the southbound direction in the morning compared to morning northbound traffic. The synchronization system sets the timing to favor the southbound direction in the morning. The opposite occurs in the evening peak period when north bound Jamboree traffic is much heavier than the southbound traffic.
Irvine’s Traffic System
The City operates 19 synchronized traffic signal systems that are currently not coordinated with the Caltrans signals. Within the next 12-18 months, the Caltrans signals will be coordinated with the City’s synchronization program, which will considerably help traffic flow on those corridors.
These 19 synchronized traffic signal systems crisscross each other, which means that two heavy traffic corridors are competing for the same green light time. Also, heavy left turn demand at intersections limits the amount of green light time available for through traffic. In addition, timing plans for these corridors can get out of date as traffic patterns change all the time. The city is constantly taking new traffic counts and making adjustments to the synchronization plans.
Traffic signal equipment also gets old and obsolete, so the city typically upgrades all the equipment and recalculates the timing plans on three or four corridors per year. These updates also involve adjacent cities so the synchronization program can operate across city lines. For example, we currently have two synchronization projects underway with the City of Tustin.
The City of Irvine has a traffic signal control center at City Hall, called the Irvine Traffic Research and Control Center (ITRAC) that monitors those 19 synchronized corridors with video detection. ITRAC is staffed by traffic engineers from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. When there is a construction project or a utility repair or a traffic accident that takes out a lane, staff modifies the signal timing to prevent a major back up in the direction where the constriction is taking place. Only Irvine and Anaheim have this type of traffic signal management center in Orange County.
There are three periods during the day when these 19 corridors are synchronized, the AM peak period, the mid-day peak period and the PM peak period. The hours of operation of those three periods varies from corridor to corridor. Corridors are typically not synchronized on weekend days except when there is a special event. When a corridor is not is the synchronized mode, traffic signals operate independently within certain pre-programmed parameters. Traffic signals detect the presence of vehicles and bicycles all around the intersection and allocate the green light time as necessary.
Reporting a Problem
If you ever observe a traffic signal that you think is not functioning properly, call ITRAC and report it.
Their direct line is 949 724-7324. Just tell them what you observed at a specific traffic signal and they will check it on the monitors and fix the problem if necessary. Traffic signals are complicated systems and require constant observation.
I know we would all love to have green lights all the time, but that is just not reality. If it were, we would implement the “All Green Light Plan” — as would every city.
[Take the surveys below at the end of this blog post.]
The voters in Irvine recently rejected Measure B.
The issue now is what, in rejecting Measure B, did the voters really decide.
Sign used by opponents of Measure B, warning that passage of Measure B would mean thousands more cars on every road in Irvine.
Some argue that the rejection of Measure B means that the voters said that the proposed veterans cemetery should be located at the ARDA site that was originally selected by the City Council in July 2014.
But the actual language of Measure B said nothing about the original ARDA site, except that the development previously zoned for the strawberry fields site would be moved there.
Looking at the specific language of Measure B, what the voters said No to was “allowing the previously planned development for the Bake Parkway Site to be relocated to the intersection of Pusan and Irvine Blvd and allowing the development of a veterans cemetery near the intersection of I-5 and Bake Parkway.”
Thus, by its express language, the no vote on Measure B rejects that zoning decision, but does not authorize the city to place a veterans cemetery on the ARDA site.
Map used by opponents of Measure B, warning that passage of Measure B would lead to massive development and 10,000 more car and truck trips every day.
In addition, the City Council’s approval of the ARDA site in 2014 was based on the belief that the City would provide the land for the veterans cemetery, but the costs of construction and subsequent maintenance of the cemetery would be wholly paid by state and federal government.
Crucially, the City Council’s approval of the ARDA site also came several years before we learned that construction of the veterans cemetery at the ARDA site would cost nearly $80 million, mostly due to the need for decontamination of the soil and the decontamination and removal of numerous existing structures, and that in addition to providing the land, the City would have to bear a significant portion of these construction costs.
In particular, Measure B said nothing at all about approving the spending of tens of millions of dollars that are now earmarked for creating the features of the Great Park that residents have said they want – such as museums, botanical gardens, a new Wild Rivers Water Park, and a permanent amphitheatre for live music – and, instead, using that money for a veterans cemetery.
My belief is that the rejection of Measure B means that the voters did not want a zoning change that, as the No on B campaign said, would have allowed “massive development projects” at the ARDA site, add “812,000 square feet of development,” and “bring 10,000 more cars and trucks to Irvine streets and neighborhoods every day.”
For me, the lesson of Measure B is that the voters did not want to risk the possibility that the land exchange would lead to more development and more traffic congestion, as well as the voters believing that it was too favorable a deal for the developer.
In other words, I see the rejection of Measure B as a vote against more development and traffic congestion, and not a vote in favor of spending tens of millions of dollars on a veterans cemetery rather than building other popular features of the Great Park
I would like to know what you believe the rejection of Measure B means, especially if you were among the majority in Irvine who voted against it.
Please take the surveys below:
The City Council must now decide whether, and how, to proceed with a veterans cemetery. What do you want the City Council to do:
Please share these surveys with your Irvine friends and neighbors. I would like as much resident input as possible.
The surveys are now closed.
While the surveys are not scientific, I believe their results are straight-forward and present an accurate view of why Measure B failed.
The survey results show that the main reason people voted No on Measure B was opposition to development and traffic, rather than a desire to return the veterans cemetery to its original site.
These results should not be unexpected since the No on Measure B campaign focused almost exclusively on the claim that Measure B would lead to more development and traffic (“B = Thousands MORE Cars on THIS Road!”).
Further underscoring the conclusion that Measure B failed because of perceptions about development and traffic rather than preference for the original site, the survey results show thatfew residents are in favor of spending the $40 – $80 million required to build the veterans cemetery on the original site.
The clear message sent by voters with the defeat of Measures B and D is that developers must not be allowed to continue runaway development without regard to our traffic, schools, and quality of life, and that Irvine residents must have a say in all future development decisions.
I supported Measure B because I believed it would provide veterans with the best chance for a dignified military cemetery; that it would save Irvine taxpayers millions of dollars; and that it would reduce traffic congestion by restricting future development at the strawberry fields.
The voters, however, did not want to risk even the possibility that it would lead to more development and more traffic congestion.
In fact, Irvine residents are rightly concerned that runaway development and traffic congestion will forever change the character of our beautiful city – without their input or consent. They are rightly distrustful of developers whose bottom line is their profit, not our quality of life. I am distrustful as well, and I share the voters’ skepticism about giant developers and their motives. Developers spent millions of dollars trying to defeat me in the last election, and no doubt will do so again.
As an Irvine City Councilmember, I have not voted for a single new entitlement or approved any new construction. The development that residents are now seeing all over town – from the Great Park neighborhoods to Quail Hill to Tomato Springs – was approved by prior City Councilmembers, and not by me. I have not approved any of it, and I was one of only two Irvine Councilmembers who voted against the Irvine Company’s proposed 1,960-unit apartment complex at the old Traveland USA site at the 5 Freeway and Sand Canyon. I opposed that plan because of its negative impact on traffic and schools, and I will not approve any future development without prior careful determination and consideration of its impact on our schools, traffic, and open space.
As an Irvine City Councilmember, I also voted against Measure D. I opposed Measure D because I believe that Irvine residents must have a strong voice in determining how our city grows.
Moving forward, I reaffirm my pledge to end runaway development. Irvine must return to its commitment to the wisdom of the Master Plan. The current piecemeal approach to development favored by developers and some members of the City Council must end. Irvine needs to return to the principles of careful planning and measured, smart growth that not very long ago made Irvine the best place in America to live, work, and raise a family. There must be no more developer giveaways.
Irvine needs an effective traffic reduction plan, and not just a congestion management plan. Irvine had long been recognized as a national leader in city planning and innovation. Unfortunately, Irvine has failed to properly plan for the tremendous increase in traffic caused by the city’s explosive recent growth. As a result, Irvine residents have been forced to contend with unprecedented traffic congestion and less safe streets and roads. Our City Council now needs to do more than try to manage the traffic congestion that is already out of control. We need to say clearly that the current level of traffic congestion is completely unacceptable and must be reduced.
Irvine needs more police officers. As Irvine has grown, the need for more police officers has become critical, not just for preventing crime, but also for enforcing our traffic laws, which are essential to keeping our children safe as they play and go to school in our neighborhoods. I will work to add more police officers to ensure that our residents are as safe in Irvine now and in the future as they were before Irvine began to grow.
Irvine needs more childcare. We know that our great schools, beautiful parks, and safe environment attract many families with young children. We also know that a critical part of any thriving community is safe, professional, reliable, and affordable preschool and childcare. Developers must be held accountable for including childcare as part of an overall city development plan, just as they are required to build schools. Irvine must become truly family friendly. No more waiting lists!
Let’s build the veterans cemetery. I have been fighting for a veterans cemetery at the former El Toro Marine Base since 2014 and will continue to do so. Our veterans deserve a veterans cemetery close to their families and loved ones. Now that Measure B has been defeated, we need to find a site that honors our veterans and is approved by Irvine residents. I am firmly committed to that task.
Let’s finish building the Great Park. For far too long, the residents of Irvine were given nothing but empty promises about building our Great Park on the grounds of the old El Toro Marine Base. As Vice Chair of the Great Park, I am proud that we have finally succeeded in creating a Great Park that residents can enjoy, with terrific sports fields, a magnificent new championship soccer stadium, and the best community ice-skating facility in the West already under construction — but there is still much more to do. Our residents have told us that they want a new Wild Rivers water park, and we need to ensure that happens. We also need to fulfill our promise to build a city-owned amphitheatre on the Great Park’s cultural terrace, so that a developer’s decision can not deprive us of live music again. I will also insist that we follow the recommendations of residents and build world-class botanical gardens, museums, and a lake to make Irvine the home of a truly Great Park. Getting that job done is one of my main priorities.
I love Irvine and will continue to work to ensure that Irvine remains among the safest and most beautiful cities in the nation. As your Irvine City Councilmember, I will fight to ensure that the public interest – in preventing over-development, over-crowed schools, and traffic congestion, and in preserving the character of our communities – comes before the private interests of developers, no matter how big and powerful those developers may be.
Irvine Councilmember Melissa Fox appointed me to the City’s new Irvine Transportation Commission in May of 2017. One of the missions of the Transportation Commission is to the advise the Planning Commission and the City Council on the traffic impacts of new development applications.
Another task for the Commission is to work with City staff on ways to improve traffic flow in Irvine.
Ken Montgomery Chair, irvine Transportation Commission
One way to reduce single occupant vehicle trips in Irvine is to increase the amount of people who will use a bicycle for their short trips around town when it is practical.
Most of Irvine’s streets have bicycle lanes. Most of Irvine’s traffic signals have video detection cameras mounted on the mast arms. These cameras detect when there is a bicycle waiting at the red light. You don’t even have to push the bicycle push button anymore if you don’t want to. In Irvine you can legally ride on sidewalks, but you must yield to pedestrians. Thus, on the few streets where there are no bike lanes, you can ride on the sidewalks legally.
I ride all over Irvine everyday on my electric bike and I can get to every place in Irvine conveniently.
I know there are a few streets that have no bike lanes with narrow sidewalks like MacArthur near the airport, but for the most part I can ride a bike to any shopping center, professional office building, or recreational center or park in town.
The problem comes when you try to lock up your bike at one of these destinations!
Many private properties with big parking lots for cars have no bike racks. I frequently have to lock up to a handicap parking sign pole or a trash can with openings big enough for my cable bike lock. Sometimes a destination will have a bike rack somewhere out of view, where no one can see the bike thief with the bolt cutters. This lack of bicycle parking often defeats the purpose of riding a bike if you can’t secure it properly.
The City requires new developments to have bike racks, but these racks often disappear after a few years or are relocated to an out of the way location. I feel that if I ride a bike, I should be able to lock up close to the building’s entry, not 500’ away.
The City is making efforts to get businesses to voluntarily provide bike racks near their building entries, but with over 25,000 businesses in Irvine, progress will be slow. I encourage bike riders to let the business that you visit on your bike know that well placed bike racks is the “right thing to do” on many levels (customer service, environment, health).
The Transportation Commission meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month in the City Council Chambers at 5:30 pm. I strongly encourage Irvine residents to bring any traffic concerns, ideas or comments to the Commission meeting. You will be welcomed to speak at the beginning of the meeting. The full City traffic engineering staff attends these meetings and they will hear your ideas and can respond to your questions. Check here for Transportation Commission agendas. The public is welcome to speak on all agenda items as well as non agenda related comments.
If you can’t wait for the next meeting, feel free to email me your questions, comments and ideas about transportation and traffic in Irvine. I will forward your comments to the appropriate City staff member.
Let’s work together to improve Irvine’s traffic and make Irvine an even better place to ride our bikes!
Thank you for the privilege of serving the residents of Irvine.
I held a public Town Hall Meeting at the Irvine Championship Stadium in the Great Park on Saturday, October 21, where we discussed traffic, childcare, the Southern California Veterans Cemetery, affordable housing, and other issues of interest to Irvine residents.
I was joined by several of my city commissioners, as well as by members of the Irvine Police Department, who were also there to answer questions.
Several dozen Irvine residents spoke and asked questions, and I thank everyone who attended.
Here are some photos from the event:
I really enjoyed the open, public dialogue with Irvine residents, and I intend to make these Town Hall Meetings a regular part of my work as an Irvine City Councilmember.
Irvine, CA — Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox was recently interviewed by Claudia Shambaugh on KUCI’s award-winning program “Ask a Leader.”
The topics covered include the new composition of the Irvine City Council, Irvine’s recent progress on environmental issues, traffic, Melissa Fox’s goals for the Great Park, and the Orange County Veterans Cemetery.
To listen to the podcast of the interview, click here.
Melissa Fox’s section of the podcast starts at 29:30, right after “Amazing Grace.”