Irvine’s early attention to infrastructure pays off

by Ellen Bell

EVERY GREAT CITY is built upon a solid foundation, known as its infrastructure.

Across America, it’s often overlooked or crumbling. In Irvine, however, this infrastructure was master planned before the first home was built — anticipating future needs in a way that never before had been tried.

Because of this, residents enjoy these benefits:

A smarter street system: Irvine’s hierarchical road system moves traffic around neighborhoods instead of through them. This not only keeps neighborhood streets quiet, it deters crime by eliminating the random motorists found on grid-style street systems used in most cities.

Alternative transportation: More than 360 miles of bike trails, Amtrak and Metrolink service, and the iShuttle, a system that takes commuters from the station to the office, all combine to take cars off the road and relieve congestion.

Light synchronization: Traffic lights talk to each other in Irvine. Key intersections in Irvine are synced to avoid waiting when there’s no cross traffic.

Smooth roads: Irvine’s streets came out among the smoothest in the state in a California survey of 482 cities. This can be attributed to continual funding for road improvements across town.

Recycled water: Irvine’s recycled-water system was one of the first in the U.S., with more than 500 miles of purple pipes that deliver recycled water for landscaping — saving 8.5 billion gallons each year for drinking water.

Reliable water supply: Sixteen reservoirs located throughout the city store 1.6 billion gallons of water for a reliable local water supply.

Fiber-optic cable: Early planning anticipated the future. That’s why Irvine, along with utility partners Cox and SCE, has been able to install fiber-optic networks ahead of other cities. That includes industry-leading Google Fiber.

Hybrid electric buildings: Irvine has the world’s first fleet of hybrid-electric office buildings. These buildings use Tesla batteries that reduce enough power demand during peak hours to serve 10,000 homes.

Michelson Water Recycling Plant, 1976.
Final portion of striping on Alton Parkway.
Traffic light installation at Barranca and Jeffrey.