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Newport commission to hear proposal to scrap Mariners' Mile street parking for more driving space

Newport commission to hear proposal to scrap Mariners' Mile street parking for more driving space
Newport Beach officials are looking to make the entire Mariners’ Mile stretch of West Coast Highway, seen from Cliff Drive at sunset, three lanes in both directions. (File photo)

The Newport Beach Planning Commission is scheduled to hear a presentation Thursday on a proposal to widen portions of Mariners' Mile, an endeavor that could include getting rid of the thoroughfare's scattered street parking and converting it to driving space.

The commission is not scheduled to vote on the idea during the meeting.

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The road in question is the 1.3-mile stretch of West Coast Highway between Newport Boulevard and Dover Drive. City officials are looking for the entire route to have three lanes eastbound and westbound.

The plans would align with Coast Highway's designation as a six-lane major arterial highway in both the Newport Beach general plan and a county transportation master plan.

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As it's constructed now, Mariners' Mile has a mixture of two or three lanes, depending on the direction. Other parts of the highway are used for turn lanes.

City officials say removing parking on a major road like Coast Highway is recommended because moving in and out of those spaces presents safety issues.

The question of how to replace the lost parking would merit its own study, officials say.

Motorists' use of West Coast Highway through Mariners' Mile is expected to increase. In 2011, the average daily traffic count between Newport Boulevard and Tustin Avenue was 48,000, city officials said. By 2030, that figure is expected to jump by nearly 19%, to 57,000.

Between Tustin Avenue and Dover Drive, officials recorded 44,000 average daily traffic trips in 2011. By 2030, the number is expected to tick up to 53,000, an increase of 20%.

West Coast Highway between the Santa Ana River and Jamboree Road, a stretch that includes Mariners' Mile, is owned and maintained by the California Department of Transportation, though the city maintains landscaping and coordinates with the state agency on various projects.

Newport is not expecting Caltrans to pay for the widening effort. Rather, city officials expect funding to come from grants and gas taxes.

Thursday's Planning Commission meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Newport Beach Civic Center, 100 Civic Center Drive.

Twitter: @BradleyZint

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