Patience with the construction will equate to better traffic flow and a more aesthetic appeal. (Claire Cote)
After several years and millions of dollars, the Crown Valley Traffic Relief Project is scheduled to end in June 2009. The construction project, started in April 2006, will have taken 38 months and $17.5 million. The main goal of the project was to widen the formerly cramped and busy Crown Valley to eight lanes.
In the years since the start of the project, the constant building has resulted in serious congestion on Crown Valley. Student commutes to school have been affected accordingly.
“It’s really affected me, not just going to school, but also when I have to go to work, since I work around that area,” said Jeff Weber, 20, history. “It’s such a huge hassle. It doesn’t really feel like anything’s changed, to be honest. They added a couple of lanes, but the traffic is still terrible. What a waste of money.”
Remarkably, no city tax money was ever allocated to the project. Instead, the majority of funding ($13 million) came through Ladera Ranch development fees. An additional $2 million came from Federal Roadway funds, another $1.2 million came from Federal Landscape Fees, and $880,000 came from Crown Valley corridor fees. Lastly, $350,000 came from Measure M funds, a measure approved in 1990 by Orange County citizens that provides funding for hundreds of construction projects in the county, including the Crown Valley Traffic Relief Project.
The construction, originally scheduled to last 18 months, has been delayed several times. City officials have blamed rain and landscaping changes for the delays, but many students are simply relieved that the project will be ending.
“If it’s ending in June, that will be great,” said Dave Sheraton, 21, film. “Wasn’t it supposed to be done a long time ago, though? But, that’s pretty satisfactory as long as it’s ending. I haven’t really noticed a change. Hopefully this will relieve traffic. It’s insane around there.”
In addition to widening the parkway, aesthetic improvements have been a part of the project. Much of the formerly barren median strip has been renovated, adding trees and other foliage. Recently, much of the work has been conducted at night in an attempt to avoid causing more traffic. A sound wall and dual turn lanes on both sides of the road round out the long list of improvements.
The main focus of the project, however, remained the expansion of Crown Valley, one of the busiest streets in the county. The construction took place in three phases. Phase I (the widening of the eastbound side of the street) took place from April 2006 to April 2008. Phase II (the widening of the westbound side of the street) was started in October 2007 and finished in January of this year. The final Phase III, the improvement of the median, was started in October 2008 and will mark the end of the project when it ends in June.