Irvine is one step closer to realizing a citywide transit plan that would connect the Metrolink train stations in Tustin and Irvine with a comprehensive shuttle system.

Mayor Sukhee Kang announced that the city will get $66 million in state money to build the shuttle system, which is part of a 30-year citywide transit vision that will end up eliminating the need for residents to have their own cars just to get around the city.

Additionally, it will get $22 million toward an underpass at the Sand Canyon rail crossing.

Currently, the shuttle system — dubbed the i shuttle — only has two routes. Both are almost straight shots from the Tustin Metrolink station to John Wayne Airport, (though one of the routes takes a short detour via Main St.)

The funds are available because of a 2009 funding trade agreement brokered by Kang with the Orange County Transportation Authority, according to a staff report.

The city agreed to exchange all Proposition 116 funds with OCTA for matching funds of up to $121 million in Measure M2 funding that would go toward local transit projects. Proposition 116 allows for state grants to rail line projects, and Measure M2 doles out money for local transit projects.

The agreement allows for Irvine to have more flexible use of the money under Measure M2, such as operations and maintenance costs. Under Proposition 116, that money could only have been used for Capital Project costs, Kang said.

On April 7th, the California Transportation Commission approved the funding trade.

In addition to the funding trade, the city struck another deal with OCTA that gave OCTA 21.3 acres of Great Park land. In turn, OCTA will fund $22 million for road grading for an underpass at the Sand Canyon rail crossing.


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