Balboa Island gets a new bridge to connect its ‘big’ and ‘little’ sides

A new bridge connecting Balboa Island and Little Balboa Island opened Tuesday afternoon after more than a year of work.
(Hillary Davis | Daily Pilot)

Newport Beach’s Balboa Island celebrated the opening of a new bridge connecting its “big” and “little” sides Tuesday after more than a year of work.

A parade of classic cars cruised the span to cheers from onlookers.

The original Park Avenue bridge had connected the two sides — Balboa Island actually is an archipelago of man-made islands, with its two largest masses nicknamed the Big and Little islands — since 1930 but had reached the end of its usable life. Work started on the new bridge in June 2016, and a temporary steel bridge a block north allowed vehicles and pedestrians to cross in the meantime.

City Councilman Jeff Herdman, a longtime resident of Balboa Island, said that as a boy, he would leap from the edge of the original bridge into the Grand Canal and ride a homemade skateboard down its ramp.

He praised city engineers Mark Vukojevic and Fong Tse for their work on the $6.3-million, federally funded bridge replacement project.

Newport Beach fire Capt. Glenn White and Councilman Jeff Herdman, riding in a 1920 American LaFrance firetruck, are among the first to drive over the new Park Avenue bridge Tuesday.
(Susan Hoffman)

The new bridge is wider than its predecessor by two feet of road and one foot on each sidewalk. It also has stairs at all corners to connect it to the boardwalk.

Workers began dismantling the temporary bridge Wednesday.

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