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Concepts for Newport Boulevard widening begin to take shape in Costa Mesa

Newport Boulevard widening plans
Costa Mesa leaders are exploring preliminary concepts to widen half or all of Newport Boulevard between 19th Street and Superior Avenue, just north of 17th Street.
(Bing Maps / Daily Pilot)

It may be far from reality now, but residents got a first glimpse Monday evening at the possible future of Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa.

City leaders and designers from contractor Onward Engineering presented preliminary concepts for three different options for the stretch of the boulevard between 19th Street and Superior Avenue, just north of 17th Street, during a community meeting at the Donald Dungan Library.

One option would widen southbound Newport Boulevard to four lanes from three, without affecting parking. Right-turn-only lanes southbound would become shared through and right-turn lanes.

Option B would add a lane on southbound Newport Boulevard while maintaining the current right-turn pockets. That would take away some parking.

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The final option would widen the street to four lanes on both sides, taking away street parking on the northbound side and some spaces in the parking lot at the Vans shoe store at 1835 Newport. The median would be narrowed.

Several residents expressed a need for more accommodations for alternative transportation, such as biking and walking.

“I don’t see a bike lane, I don’t see a crosswalk, I don’t see sidewalk improvements,” said Cynthia McDonald, chairwoman of Costa Mesa’s Bikeway and Walkability Committee. “So we’re not even getting close in these concepts to something that would be an acceptable design.”

Other residents questioned whether adding lanes would simply push the traffic chokepoint farther south.

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City Public Services Director Raja Sethuraman said traffic studies show that southbound traffic “keeps getting less and less as you go south of 19th.”

He said one reason to improve Newport Boulevard is to reduce congestion through Eastside neighborhoods.

But Russell Toler, an Eastside resident and founding member of the newly formed advocacy group Costa Mesa Alliance for Better Streets, said “we’re just making it worse. We know that whatever space we give to cars is going to fill up with cars.”

City leaders emphasized that the three visions are preliminary and adaptable, based on public input. Two more public meetings will be held before a final design is approved. The project would still be years in the making, dependent on collaboration with the California Department of Transportation.

Sethuraman estimated that construction would last six to nine months, but added, “It’s not a project that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

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