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COSTA MESA : City to Ask County Aid for Street Study

The city will put off a planned study on the downgrading of East 19th Street from a planned major thoroughfare and will instead ask the county to help pay for a larger study on that street and two proposed bridges over the Santa Ana River.

The move may save the city several thousand dollars if the county agrees to pay some of the cost of the new, more expensive study. At the same time, the city could also end up paying the full price of the cooperative study, estimated at $35,000 to $40,000. The original study was to have cost an estimated $17,500 and was limited to downgrading East 19th.

In February, the City Council asked its staff to commission a study to retain 19th Street as a residential street, even though the county has plans to develop it into a six-lane arterial highway, with the elimination of 60 homes. Residents protested those plans, and in response, the city installed traffic-slowing measures and set aside Measure C money for future sidewalks.

In November, the council asked the County Board of Supervisors to participate in a cooperative study on its Master Plan of Arterial Highways. The city hopes to convince the county that 19th Street should be downgraded from Newport Boulevard to Tustin Avenue, and that proposed bridges on 19th Street and Gisler Avenue over the Santa Ana River should be deleted.

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On Monday, the council decided that those two studies would overlap and nullified its decision, made in February, to commission a study.

The city hopes to work with county officials to change the county’s plans for those streets while still holding on to the city’s Measure M funds. Voters approved the half-cent sales tax increase last year to fund road improvements.

Street and highway plans of the various cities must agree with the county’s master plan of highways to qualify for the street-improvement funds.

Costa Mesa has applied for $2.7 million in Measure M funds for street and intersection improvements. The city also has identified 30 projects planned for the next seven years that could be in jeopardy of losing county funding if its plan is different from the county’s.

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Bill Morris, director of public services, told council members Monday that although the county could agree to help pay for the study, it refused a request from the city of Irvine to help fund a study to downgrade a street targeted as a major arterial highway.


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