Newport studying Newport Heights traffic for kids’ sake


Newport Beach is taking a close look at how children get to and from school in Newport Heights — and how it can be safer.

At a neighborhood forum Thursday at the Mariners branch library to invite residents’ input, city traffic engineer Tony Brine said the study will focus tightly on school-related traffic. Three schools in the area — Newport Heights Elementary, Ensign Intermediate and Newport Harbor High — are within a 1-mile radius and enroll about 4,300 students among them.

Traffic in Newport Heights, and how children can be affected by it, has weighed heavily on neighbors’ minds since the May 2016 death of 8-year-old Brock McCann, who was struck and killed by a garbage truck as he rode his bike home from Newport Heights Elementary School along 15th Street. Neighbors distributed red flags outside the meeting, with tags tied to them reminding people to drive safely in memory of Brock.

The city will observe drop-offs and pickups at all three schools; collect parking data for campus-area streets; gather pedestrian, bicyclist and car volumes along Irvine Avenue and 15th Street; get speed data on Irvine, 15th, Clay Street and Cliff Drive; review crossing guard locations; inventory school warning signs in the neighborhood; study intersection visibility with streets as they meet 15th Street and measure existing red curbs.

Brine and other study contributors also will walk the streets themselves.

“We’re gonna pretend we’re the kids going to and from school — how do we feel is the best way to go that’s safe,” he said.

The city is collecting data now and plans to have a completed study and set of recommendations by February.

Those who spoke publicly suggested expanding the boundaries of the study area, gathering speed data at more points and considering trash truck and street-sweeper schedules.

A few wanted stricter enforcement of traffic laws, even for young travelers, while others suggested giving warnings and impounding the bikes and skateboards of scofflaws.

Councilman Brad Avery, whose district includes Newport Heights, said the city will hold more meetings on the matter. Avery is a Heights resident who lives near the high school.

“I have my own concerns about cars going down the street plenty fast,” he said.

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