Newport could abandon plan to curb speeding on Bayside Drive with a roundabout

Dave Brennan talks about the state of Bayside Drive, a Newport Beach street where officials have proposed to place a roundabout. Some neighbors are opposed.
(Drew A. Kelley)

Dave Brennan has no problem with a roundabout on the road just outside his Newport Beach home.

For a while, he thought he would get one, after the City Council voted to move ahead with a roundabout and lane reductions on Bayside Drive. The move came after neighborhood complaints of speeding and reckless drivers who blast through the curving, four-lane road, which runs directly along some homeowners’ driveways, to occasional deleterious effect.

But now, after city officials received broader community feedback in recent months that tipped in opposition to the roundabout, the council is set to consider it again Tuesday.

Brennan, who lives just off Bayside at Harbor Island Drive, said his house has been hit twice by wayward drivers.

Brennan grew up in New England, where roundabouts are common.

While having the roundabout just outside his door could slow down his exit from his street, he doesn’t mind that.

“We’re willing to put up with that sort of issue for the sake of safety,” Brennan said.

Bayside Drive was laid down in the 1970s and last repaved in the 1990s. It is one of two four-lane arterials in the city — Irvine Avenue is the other — with direct residential driveway access.

A recent month-long study measuring speed on Bayside’s eastbound lanes at Harbor Island showed an average speed of 32 mph. The single fastest driver was clocked at 86 mph.
(Drew A. Kelley)

With a planned major pavement rehabilitation on the 1.3-mile stretch between East Coast Highway and Jamboree Road, the city also looked into addressing longstanding speeding and safety issues.

In November, the City Council voted to move to the design phase of the roundabout plan and continue discussions with residents of nearby Linda Isle and Balboa Island. As staff did so, they found more resistance to the roundabout concept, Public Works Director Dave Webb wrote in a report in advance of Tuesday’s council meeting.

The community meetings helped more people generally understand the need to do something to address Bayside traffic, but it yielded no consensus on a road layout. But it did lead to another possible outcome, one that narrows eastbound traffic to one lane for a portion, with some narrowing of the two westbound lanes. So, city staff is bringing it back before the council to give it another public airing.

Tire marks from a recent accident on Bayside Drive in Newport Beach
(Drew A. Kelley)

Between 2012 and 2016, the city said, the road had 27 reported collisions. Nine involved cyclists; two involved pedestrians.

A recent month-long study measuring speed on Bayside’s eastbound lanes at Harbor Island showed an average speed of 32 mph. The single fastest driver was clocked at 86 mph.

Webb’s report said many Bayside residents prefer the roundabout concept, but most others queried were concerned with the challenge of navigating through the traffic circles.

Last summer, a traffic volume study showed that Bayside, as-is, is lightly used. It had about 1,000 to 1,100 cars per hour per lane in lanes designed to handle 6,400 cars per hour.

Lori Teslow visits her parents on Bayside often. She said people who have protested the roundabout are either misinformed about its impact “or don’t want to give up their ability to drive at excessive speed” along the 1.3-mile section.

Chad Hall said his truck, parked in his driveway, was severely damaged after a driver blew the broad curve and hit the fire hydrant, sending it flying into his truck’s rear hatch before it pinged back into the road.

His garage, which sits perpendicular to Bayside, has a bricked-over wall. Hall said the previous owner had the brick installed in the 1970s as a layer of protection after a car struck the wall.

Max Hampton’s Bayside home has withstood two crashes since he’s lived there. In 1994, a taxi slammed into a remodelers’ trash bin at full speed. In 2008, a car jumped the curb, veered across his driveway, leveled a palm tree and pinned a cyclist against his neighbor’s wall.

Max and Valerie Hampton said their Bayside home has withstood two crashes.
(Drew A. Kelley)

In lesser incidents, “We’ve had I don’t know how many cars sideswiped here,” Hampton said.

Former Councilman and Bayside resident Ed Selich said not all collisions are reported to police.

He has been on the receiving end of five. One involved an oncoming car pushing his parked SUV onto the sidewalk and totaling it.

With wide, open curves, people feel less encumbered, Selich contends.

“It says, please drive fast,” he said.

The council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Newport Beach Civic Center, 100 Civic Center Drive.

Bayside Drive Options

  • Option No. 1: Four lanes (two in each direction), narrowed. $1.8 million
  • Option No. 2: Reduce about half of Bayside to two lanes (one in each direction, between Harbor Island and East Coast Highway) and leave four lanes (two lanes in each direction, between Harbor Island and Jamboree Road/Marine Avenue), but narrowed. Add roundabout at Bayside and Harbor Island. $2.2 million
  • Option No. 3: Three-lane hybrid. Eastbound: One lane from East Coast Highway to the signalized pedestrian crossing, two lanes through to Jamboree Road/Marine Avenue. Westbound: Maintain two lanes, with narrowing between pedestrian crossing and Jamboree/Marine. $2 million
  • Option No. 4: No reconfiguration. Resurface only. $1.2 million

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD