The Tustin City Council on Monday approved a plan drafted by the mayors of Tustin, Irvine and Orange for the design of proposed links between the proposed Eastern Transportation Corridor and the Santa Ana Freeway.
The unanimous vote came as a major homeowners group continued to protest the plan, saying that major concerns it had raised in a meeting with the mayors last week had not been adequately addressed.
If adopted, the plan calls for a link to extend south from the Riverside Freeway at Gypsum Canyon Road and divide into two legs. The eastern leg would connect with the Santa Ana Freeway at the Laguna Freeway. The western leg would have six lanes and run parallel to the planned extension of Jamboree Boulevard as they both cross the Santa Ana Freeway, and then merge with Jamboree to eventually end at the Irvine Business Center.
The Tustin City Council's action marks another hurdle the plan must pass before it is ready for review at Thursday's meeting of the Eastern Foothill Transportation Corridor Agency, a consortium that 10 cities have formed to build the road. The city councils of Irvine and Orange are scheduled to consider the issue today.
Hours before the council vote, a list of concerns was sent to all three cities by the Eastern Transportation Corridor Homeowner's Coalition, a group of about 25,000 homeowners from North Irvine, Tustin, North Tustin and Orange. The group was most concerned about a proposal for the western leg to have four lanes when it crosses the Santa Ana Freeway and merges with Jamboree south of Interstate 5. The mayors have proposed a merger north of the Santa Ana Freeway.
Tustin City Council members, however, contended that a juncture in the more congested area north of the Santa Ana Freeway would create traffic problems.
"I think they should come together as far south as possible to get the benefit of two thoroughfares," Tustin Mayor Ronald B. Hoesterey said. "The sooner those two roads come together, we lose the ability to have parallel roadways."
Council member Richard Edgar, who was mayor until Feb. 1 and who worked on the plan for Tustin, said "traffic demand" in the area "may mandate that six lanes are necessary."
However, coalition co-chairman Jim Brooks said figures obtained by the county and another set obtained by a private consultant for another group support the coalition's contention that a four-lane western leg, combined with the six-lane Jamboree portion, would sufficiently offset traffic problems in the area.
"If you come up with a third group of engineers to say that the numbers should support the city and what they want, who says who's right?" Brooks asked.
He said the coalition would continue to approach city and county elected officials with their concerns.
"We're going to continue to let our position be known," he said.