Plans for new Harbor Boulevard medians in Costa Mesa get council's OK

Costa Mesa City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to move ahead with building raised landscaped medians on a stretch of Harbor Boulevard.

The council’s vote approves the conceptual layout of the new fixtures — which will be installed in the current empty roadway median between Wilson and 19th streets — and authorizes city staff to finalize the design and solicit construction bids.

City officials have said the project’s goal is to beautify that stretch of Harbor and improve safety on the bustling thoroughfare by slowing traffic and limiting where drivers can make left turns, possibly reducing the number and severity of crashes.

Not everyone favored the proposal, however. Though the bulk of its funding — roughly $528,100 — is from a federal grant, some residents objected that the city will need to kick in about $300,000 to complete it.

Others said they’re concerned that the medians would make it harder to access some businesses in the area. Forcing drivers to make U-turns or take circuitous routes to get to certain shops could discourage customers, critics said.

Similar objections were raised during a trio of community meetings held since August 2016, as well as at an initial council hearing this past summer.

Jennifer Rosales, the city’s transportation services manager, said those comments were taken into account and that the planned median has been shortened or eliminated in some areas to provide as much access as possible.

Some stretches of the median will be built lower and kept free of landscaping to enable emergency vehicles to pass through, she added.

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