The Irvine City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 14, unanimously approved a $30 million construction contract for an elevated pedestrian bridge that will connect the Jeffrey Open Space Trail at Interstate 5. Once completed, the JOST/I-5 Bridge Project will create a walkable overpass above Interstate-5.

Specifically, the JOST/I-5 Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge Project will fill existing gaps in the Jeffrey Open Space Trail system which serves as one of Irvine’s most popular trails. According to a staff report, the JOST/I-5 bridge will connect Cypress Village at the north and the JOST Extension at the south, spanning I-5, California Department of Transportation Park and Ride, and Walnut Avenue.

In terms of overall costs, Irvine has approved a final budget of $30,608,349 for the project, which is slated to be completed by 2025.

The city awarded a construction contract for the amount of $23,144,703 to Guy F. Atkinson Construction LLC., along with a $2,499,989 engineering services contract with T. Y. Lin International. The council also approved a project budget adjustment for $3,700,000. Project funding also includes $10 million from the State of California Grant Fund.

In the years ahead, the bridge will act as a critical puzzle piece in connecting Irvine-based trails with nearby trails extending to the Pacific Ocean, Santa Ana Mountains and the Cleveland National Forest.

With an official length of 1,190 feet, the bridge will be designed with a clearance of 22 feet in height, a width of 21 feet and provide 15 feet of surface for pedestrians and cyclists.

Staff reports indicated that Irvine received seven different competitive bids for the project with the highest bid for $32,635,420.50 from Nationwide Contracting Services, Inc.

Irvine City Council Member Tammy Kim questioned the reasoning behind the bid selection and asked if the project would fall into Irvine’s recently approved Community Workforce Agreement.

Irvine’s CWA looks to prioritize the hiring of Irvine residents for city-related construction projects with a cost of more than $500,000. The CWA has also established an apprenticeship program to maintain a workforce of 30% local hires for all Irvine-based construction projects.

Irvine City Manager Oliver Chi explained that the JOST/I-5 Bridge project will be the city’s first under the CWA, which was established in May. Chi added that due to federal regulations, the city was required to select the lowest responsible bid.

“This or any public works related projects, we are required by state and federal law to only accept the lowest responsible bid that is submitted. However, all of the bidders that submitted their pricing for the project had to bid the job consistent with all of the Union Shop-related wage rates that are embedded in our CWA,” he explained. “While we are going with the lowest responsible bid, in the comparative bidding process everyone utilized the same input as it relates to labor costs.”

Irvine resident Jack Fancher is an avid cyclist who rides through the city but says he feels unsafe in some areas. Fancher submitted an e-comment in support of the JOST/I-5 Bridge construction, adding that he’s been waiting for approval of this project.

“In 1988 I voted for the Irvine Open Space initiative that created the Jeffrey Open Space Trail (JOST). In the last 15 years, I have been regularly cycling around the trails and bike paths of Irvine. I really appreciate the JOST bridges and off-street trail. I often must cross the I-5 corridor. It is an obstacle to north-south cycling in Irvine. There is currently only one off-street trail crossing of the I-5, the Peters Canyon Trail beside the flood channel. For personal safety reasons, I no longer cycle the Culver or Jamboree on-street crossings, rarely use the Harvard On street crossing. I must use the Sand Canyon on-street “trail” which is hazardous,” he wrote. “I’ve been waiting a very long time for the JOST crossing of the I-5. Please keep it moving along. Approve this project.”

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