Plans for a 1.6-mile highway that would link Anaheim Hills to Orange as the only north-south arterial road in eastern Orange County were approved by the Orange City Council Tuesday night.
The two-lane highway, which could be expanded to four lanes if needed, would extend from Loma Street in Orange northward to Imperial Highway in Anaheim Hills.
About 3,000 residents opposed to the project previously formed a group called Residents Opposed to Arterial Roads.
During a council debate on the issue two weeks ago, about 180 people spoke against it. Several said they feared the project would reduce property values and increase noise and traffic in an area that residents had chosen for its rural atmosphere. Ed Neis, chairman of the opposition group, submitted an alternative plan that would extend Imperial Highway westward, rather than south to Loma.
But Mayor James Beam said: "No alternative had been suggested that would balance the needs of gradual urbanization in this part of Orange County."
A report by the city indicates that the route selected has been part of the county's master plan for roads since the early 1960s. Construction is necessary, the report states, to improve traffic circulation in that section of the county and to provide access to a developing area.
The project could cost in excess of $2 million, said City Engineer Gary Johnson. However, Orange will have to bear only a small portion of the cost because Southern California Edison Co. must pay for a mile of the highway that crosses its property.
In addition, a developer building single-family homes and apartments along another quarter-mile section has agreed to pay for that portion, Johnson said. The remaining area is in Anaheim and would be covered by bond money collected from developers in the area.
Orange's share includes administrative costs for studies, public hearings and an environmental impact report.
The route selected Tuesday was one of six mapped out for the council by city staff. Johnson said the path chosen is the most advantageous because it is better hidden from view, provides the smallest "cut" into the hillside and is the farthest from existing homes.