Anyone who has been on Balboa Island during a hard rain knows the streets can flood.
The city of Newport Beach is considering replacing the island’s 1930s-era drainage system with several automated below-ground pumps. That would save on labor and costs associated with manually opening the tide gates at the end of streets and sending out portable pumps and slicker-clad city workers to dump excess storm water into the bay.
A modernized drainage system designed for a 100-year storm and potential sea level rise would operate around the clock, reduce flooding and possible property damage and improve water quality by screening storm flow, city Public Works Director Dave Webb told the City Council during its annual planning session Saturday.
Webb estimated the upgrade would cost $10 million to $15 million over 10 years.
Though it’s not clear when the proposed project would take place, it would be in conjunction with a planned paving overhaul of Marine Avenue, the island’s main commercial route, according to a broad capital improvement plan the city adopted last summer. The city intends to begin conceptualizing the Marine Avenue project later this year and begin construction in 2020 or 2021.
An enhanced drainage system and a reconstructed Marine Avenue would be the latest of several major infrastructure projects recently completed, underway or planned for the near future on the densely populated island, which actually is an archipelago consisting of a main island, a “little” island and the tiny Collins Island.
Webb suggested the city begin planning several other potential capital improvement projects, including upgrades to the Newport Pier wharf area, which last had a major rehabilitation in 1990. Others include beautifying the Old Newport Boulevard business district, repaving Ocean Boulevard between Carnation and Goldenrod avenues in Corona del Mar and adding a small outlook off Dahlia Avenue.
City department heads also floated these ideas for service enhancements: