William R. Mason Regional Park Driveway and Roadway Improvements
The County of Orange, Orange County Parks Department (OC Parks) owns and operates the William R. Mason Regional Park (park), located in the City of Irvine (city). The main entrance to the park is located along University Drive. Sand Canyon Wash runs from east to west along the northern boundary of the park, just south of University Drive. This wash, along with much of the park, is designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a special flood hazard area. The existing park entrance roadway suffered poor drainage and pavement failure, and lacked safe bicycle/pedestrian facilities. This project improved the vehicle entrance from University Drive into the park, including the roundabout/parking area, with new landscaping and surfacing.
The project improvements included the grind and overlay of the existing pavement with sustainable pervious concrete, installing ADA-compliant curb ramps for pedestrian use, widening the existing roadway to accommodate maintenance vehicles by the ticket booth, installing a raised crosswalk with decorative stamped concrete, drainage improvements, improved signage, improved traffic striping, landscape improvements, and bioswales.
New grading and drainage improvements, including permeable concrete surrounding the roundabout area and bioswales, mitigate drainage issues while improving the quality of stormwater runoff. Irrigation and reconstruction of the existing landscaped raised medians required planting improvements that included drought-tolerant and low-water-consumption plants and trees. Wayfinding signage and pavement marking enhanced the bike trail crossing, helped vehicular traffic navigate the entrance, and improved the park users’ overall experience.
Beyond the main gate entrance, the existing staff parking area was previously paved with conventional asphalt concrete. This area was removed and replaced with additional parking spaces utilizing permeable concrete. By choosing to repave with permeable materials, the project optimized its potential for additional water filtration and incorporated sustainable design elements. The roundabout at the park entrance with flagpoles in the center creates a central focal point when one is arriving at the park. This creates a gateway focal point that is welcoming to park visitors and creates a sense of place. “
This project stands out as both improving sustainability and user experience at this highly popular destination for Orange County residents. William R. Mason Regional Park is 345 acres with a 9-acre lake that attracts a variety of visitors as well as diverse wildlife. The park offers picnic areas, softball backstop, large turf areas, hiking and bicycling trails, two sand volleyball courts, a physical fitness course, three tot lot playgrounds, and amphitheater. The park also offers a 123-acre wilderness / natural area with a wide concrete pathway to walk on. These amenities make it a destination for visitors throughout Orange County and beyond. The park is accessible by walking, biking, driving and roller skating, and so must accommodate all modes of transportation.
The park entrance serves as the first impression of the park experience, but due to its location is subject to flooding. The need for improved aesthetics, multimodal access, and flood control enhancements made this park project a unique endeavor. With these improvements, families and visitors utilizing multimodal transportation options like biking, walking, roller skating, e-bikes, scooters and more have safe access to the park as do those using mobility devices like wheelchairs, strollers, etc. More than 10,000 people visit the park per month, and as a staple of the Orange County landscape, the improvements enhance the quality of life for the entire community.
The project included installing pervious concrete and bioswale at the roundabout by the main entrance of the park. The roundabout serves as a bio-retention basin which allows a portion of the park’s runoffs to be treated and infiltrate into the ground. The project also included the installation of a curb drain which allows pavement surface flow from the roadway into a newly installed bioswale that captures, treats, and releases the treated water back to the local channel. By utilizing these permanent BMP’s, the park has maximized clean water infiltration back into the water table. The beautiful aesthetics along with the functional use of these systems highlights the benefits of marrying open spaces with green infrastructure practices.
The execution of this project resulted in several special relationships being formed, including the collaboration between OC Parks Operations, OC Parks Planning & Design, OC Construction, the Engineer of Record, Mark Thomas, and the prime contractor, Bitech. These teams worked together as a single unit, despite being separate functional units within the County, as well as separate entities in the private and public sectors. The communication between the departments and between the County and its consultants was seamless, and the project went smoothly thanks to streamlined communication efforts, a singular goal, and a shared vision for improving this community destination.
This project has made a positive impact in the local community. Residents who use the park as a pathway to reach the nearby university, as well as locals who frequent the park for recreational purposes were able to see the project from start to finish. Comments made by residents regarding the project have been positive and gracious. County staff collectively note that seeing community members and park users genuinely grateful for these improvements has been the highlight of project delivery, and that a satisfied community is the highest accolade that can be achieved.