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Utility undergrounding to start in May on swath of Balboa Peninsula

Overhead utility lines on the western stretch of Balboa Boulevard will start going underground in May. Work initially was expected to begin last spring. These lines are on Balboa Boulevard around 35th Street.
(File Photo)

Workers will begin burying utility lines on the western portion of Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula next month.

The City Council on Tuesday approved $4.5 million in contracts for the work, with $3.8 million going to Asplundh Construction. The balance will go toward contingencies, administration and geotechnical services.

The project is expected to take 10 months.

The work area covers Balboa Boulevard between 36th Street and West Coast Highway and two neighborhoods just off Balboa Boulevard — one between 45th and 47th streets and the other off the harbor-facing side of the road between 38th and 44th, a gateway into Newport from nearby Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa.


“It’s more than beautification. There’s something more there for everybody,” Councilman Brad Avery said. “It just makes the town sparkle when you get that all cleaned up.”

Neighborhood residents formed special districts to cover the cost through voluntary assessments, while the Balboa Boulevard portion would use money collected from all Edison customers and other utilities because the work is considered a benefit to the general public.

The project was expected to begin in the residential portions in fall 2017 and Balboa Boulevard in spring 2018. But bids to Southern California Edison, which typically manages such work, came in much higher than expected and exceeded available funds.

The Balboa Boulevard portion was initially estimated at $4.1 million but was bid at $8.6 million, while the neighborhoods work was bid $750,000 to $1.5 million over budget.


On the council’s direction last year, Edison redesigned the work and the city took on construction management to bring down costs.

The current $4.5-million figure is for the residential and road components combined. Property owners’ self-assessments will pay for about $2.1 million, the utilities collections another $2.1 million, and the city will chip in $250,000 toward construction management.