Irvine continues to make significant investments to keep traffic moving, from synchronizing traffic lights to widening major roadways. We caught up with Director of Public Works and Transportation Jaimee Bourgeois to get the latest.
Ever since the world’s first electric traffic signal was installed in Cleveland 108 years ago, motorists have been wishing for more green lights. Irvine keeps getting them.
The city synchronized 31 traffic lights along Culver Drive and Bonita Canyon Drive, reducing peak-hour travel time by 8% – and giving Irvine 19 fully synchronized corridors. Bourgeois says she expects to see an even greater reduction in travel times once fine-tuning is completed.
The city is also in collaboration with Newport Beach to synchronize traffic signals along MacArthur Boulevard from SR-55 to Campus Drive in Irvine, and from Birch Street to PCH in Newport Beach. When completed this winter, traffic signals along the entire MacArthur Boulevard will be synchronized to improve mobility along this corridor.
Irvine’s Master Plan created a unique, hierarchical street system (as opposed to a grid system) designed to keep traffic out of neighborhoods by using city-long corridors to connect residents to nearby jobs and amenities. By synchronizing more than 300 signals along these corridors, the city has eliminated nearly one-third of the stops a motorist would have encountered without synchronization.
Traffic Management Center
The city manages all of its 380 signaled intersections from a Traffic Management Center, where a team of six full-time and two part-time staff monitor road conditions seven days a week, using a wall of TV monitors.
“Our traffic management center sets us apart from most other cities,” Bourgeois says.
Inside this control room, traffic engineers monitor work commutes, school zones, construction activities and special events and are able to adjust the timing of lights as traffic flow warrants.
The city is currently working with UCI to pilot intelligent transportation systems that use lidar technology to detect and distinguish between different road users (i.e. cars, pedestrians and bicycles) as part of a Smart Cities and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles grant awarded to UCI.
“We’re continuing to move forward,” Bourgeois says.
University Drive improvements
The University Drive/Ridgeline Drive intersection improvements and University Drive widening (from Ridgeline Drive to I-405) have been completed. University Drive was widened from two lanes to three for eastbound traffic, improving traffic circulation at the University Drive/Ridgeline Drive intersection.
Transit Vision Study
The city also has been conducting a Transit Vision Study with the goal of increasing access to local businesses, relieving parking and traffic congestion and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The study has gathered community input and will be making recommendations on new transit options in Irvine, such as microtransit and neighborhood shuttle service.
To stay up to date, visit cityofirvine.org/transitvision.