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IRVINE : Cyclists Join Critics of San Joaquin Toll Road

October 19, 1994|RUSS LOAR

It was a bicyclist's dream come true when the $67-million Newport Coast Drive opened in November, 1991, creating a rural 6.3-mile route for bicycles as well as vehicles from Irvine to the beaches of Newport.

But cyclists have now joined critics of the San Joaquin Hills Toll Road which will intersect Newport Coast Drive and bring the demise what they say is one of the county's premier bike routes.

"It's probably the nicest on-road bike trail in this end of the county," said Irvine resident Marilyn Vassos, a member of the Bicycle Club of Irvine who has logged more than 2,000 miles on her 21-speed touring bike this year.

Vassos, a retired teacher, said cyclists are angry about the impending loss of the route. "To just go and just take this road away is immoral."

Coastal residents filed a lawsuit in September against the Transportation Corridor Agencies, challenging the 50-cent toll motorists would pay to travel the full length of Newport Coast Drive.

Bicycle riders would no longer be allowed on part of Newport Coast Drive, which will become a freeway. They will have to take either MacArthur Boulevard or Bonita Canyon Road to circumvent the toll road, eventually hooking back up with Newport Coast Drive, according to Transportation Corridor Agencies spokeswoman Lisa Telles.

"They will still be able to have an access to the coast once the toll road is built," Telles said.

But bicycle travel on crowded MacArthur Boulevard is much more perilous, according to Bill Sellin, who founded the 6,000-member Bicycle Club of Irvine in 1983. "The alternatives are few and far between to get to the coast," Sellin said.

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