Newport to consider pedestrian bridges for busy corner at Superior Avenue and Coast Highway

Newport to consider pedestrian bridges for busy corner at Superior Avenue and Coast Highway
Proposed locations for bridges in the Sunset View-Sunset Ridge park complex. Sunset Ridge is at the top of the image. Sunset View is within the green area. (Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

The city of Newport Beach wants to remove two crosswalks at Superior Avenue and Coast Highway and replace them with $10 million pedestrian bridges.

Public Works Director Dave Webb gave the City Council more details Tuesday on the proposed bridges linking the Sunset View-Sunset Ridge park complex and connecting to the south side of Coast Highway during another review of possible building and infrastructure projects heading into the next budget year.


The larger Sunset Ridge includes a ball diamond, two general athletic fields, barbecues, a playground and walking trails, but its parking is limited to the 64 spaces at Sunset View, requiring park visitors to cross the wide, curving Superior.

Webb said the park complex needs at least 161 parking spaces. The city had been counting on eventual parking and access to Sunset Ridge via Banning Ranch farther west, but with the revocation of city permits last year to develop Banning Ranch after a series of court and California Coastal Commission losses, the city no longer has that guarantee, he added.


Traffic studies showed that the intersection sees 48,000 vehicles a day on Coast Highway and 21,000 to 24,000 on the Superior Avenue-Balboa Boulevard legs. It also sees 600 pedestrians, with 470 of them crossing Coast Highway, and 90 cyclists, almost half of them crossing the highway.

The parking lot at Sunset View Park is also used for beach visitors, Webb noted.

One span would cross Superior to connect Sunset View to the Sunset Ridge to the west at an estimated cost of about $3.7 million. The other would cross Coast Highway, about to where a Jack in the Box sits to the south, and add more surface parking at a potential cost of $6.6 million.

Webb said he preferred ramp-like access to the bridges rather than elevators, which come with added cost, maintenance and safety concerns.

The city already has a $2.3 million federal grant, by way of the Orange County Transportation Authority, to go toward the Superior bridge.

Lecture hall

The Central Library might get its long-desired lecture hall through a public-private partnership.

Jill Johnson-Tucker, chair of the library trustees board, told the council that library advocates have been studying the auditorium-style space for a few years.

The Central Library has the Friends Room for presentations, gatherings and performances, including the popular Witte Lecture series. But the Friends Room only seats 187 people on stackable, hard plastic chairs and has a flat floor, leading to bad sightline.

"Despite the limitations the lectures get great turnouts and have loyal followings," Johnson-Tucker said. "But many of our peer libraries have lecture halls for their presentations. The library board believes a lecture hall would be befitting to the quality of programs presented and much more comfortable for our residents."

She pitched the council on a two-part, $68,000 contract with the library's original architect to conceptualize a 300-seat lecture hall. The cost would potentially be split at about $50,000 from the city and $20,000 from private monies collected by the library's nonprofit fundraising arm, Friends of the Library.

Johnson-Tucker said library boosters have taken day trips to San Francisco and Los Angeles to see other halls and auditoriums designed by Perkins and Will, the firm where the Newport library's original architect now works. Ideally, the hall would be near the Friends Room on the library's west side.

She estimated the project's total cost at about $4 million to $5 million for a basic design.

Johnson-Tucker said the project will appear to the library's donor base and lends itself to a partnership, but first the library boards need to get their design vision on paper and get the council's approval to move forward.

Streetlight and park upgrades

The city plans to spend at least $300,000 on street light upgrades.

About $233,000 of that would be to install LED bulbs in the roughly 1,800 "post top" style streetlights. The city is also looking at spending $70,000 to redesign the circuits in Eastbluff.

In a potential separate streetlight project, the city might replace the fixtures in Spyglass Hill. That could cost another $300,000, if city staff chooses that over only replacing the bulbs.

And Newport Island Park, 3809 Marcus Ave., could get a facelift. The refurbishment would include new rock seat walls, rubberized surface in place of the sand under the playground equipment, a new swing set, and a new raised planter with landscaping.

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