How Will the Council Bridge the Gap?

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By Scott Peotter

The 19th Street bridge doesn’t exist, except on paper. But it feels good to pretend that the bridge goes over the Santa Ana River between Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa.

That is what the City of Newport Beach’s General Plan does. It pretends that traffic will actually go across it. All the traffic analyses “depend” on the bridge, and assume that it will actually carry traffic. Most of this imaginary traffic now in reality goes down Newport Boulevard and Superior Avenue and across West Coast Highway, at least the Newport portion of the traffic.

Now, even if everyone agreed that the bridge should be built, it would take years. The environmental studies, lawsuits, the geological studies, the permits, the Coastal Commission … did I mention the environmental studies?

WAIT! My eyes are starting to glaze over, and I haven’t even gotten to the actual construction of the bridge yet.

So the question is whether it will ever be built. The answer seems to be “over my dead body,” at least according to the cities of Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa. Huntington Beach Mayor Hansen’s OCTA committee had already recommended to the OCTA Board to remove it from the Master Plan of Arterial Highways and last Monday OCTA officially did just that with a unanimous vote. This action was taken without studying the impacts of the deletion to adjacent streets (mostly Newport Beach’s streets) and without Newport Beach’s agreement.

Mayor Hansen also claims that all the “affected folks” want nothing to do with this bridge. I suspect that the “affected folks” he is referring to don’t live along and depend upon Superior Avenue, Newport Boulevard and West Coast Highway. It is amazing how one’s perspective affects one’s judgment.

Maybe the question ought to be, what is Newport Beach going to do about the deletion? In other words, what mitigations is Newport Beach going to get in exchange for the deletion of the 19th Street bridge? What kind of mitigations could be built that would actually relieve the traffic that only this bridge could relieve? Is the city of Newport willing to take the issue to court to get it resolved?

Will this council have the fortitude to stand up for its citizens, or will it fold?



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