A simple concrete bridge may connect twin parks along West Coast Highway in Newport Beach, improving access and use that has been impeded by a lack of parking and the need to cross a wide, busy street on foot.
Sunset Ridge Park, northwest of Superior Avenue at Coast Highway and the larger of the two parks, has walking paths, a playground, two general sports fields and a baseball diamond over its 13.7 blufftop acres — but no on-site parking.
Sunset View Park, on the other side of Superior, is a swath of open space with benches and a paved 64-space parking lot for visitors to both Sunset Ridge and the beach. In either case, pedestrians have to cross Superior, a curving, divided road with four travel lanes and three turn lanes to connect motorists to the even wider and faster Coast Highway.
Construction of Sunset Ridge Park was completed in 2014, but it has been underutilized because of the parking and access issues, according to a Newport Beach staff report. The city has been working on a solution for years.
The city had been counting on eventual parking and access to Sunset Ridge via the Banning Ranch development to the immediate west, but with the revocation of city permits for the project in 2017 after a series of court and California Coastal Commission losses, the city no longer has that guarantee.
Enter the proposed bridge.
The city Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission selected a concrete design over a steel truss concept at its Aug. 6 meeting and recommended it for City Council approval. The council will take the item up at a future meeting.
The city has secured a $2.3 million federal grant, by way of the Orange County Transportation Authority, to go toward the bridge’s estimated $3.7 million construction cost.
Traffic studies showed that the Superior-Coast intersection sees 48,000 vehicles a day on Coast Highway and 21,000 to 24,000 on the Superior-Balboa Boulevard legs. It also sees 600 pedestrians, with 470 of them crossing Coast Highway, and 90 cyclists, almost half of them crossing the highway.
In addition to the bridge, which would be open to bicyclists, the city proposes doubling the parking at Sunset View and adding a 0.2-acre dog park on the smaller park’s northern end.