Jamboree Road bridge project begins

As Newport Beach plans for residential development to the east of John Wayne Airport, the city has launched a number of road construction projects in the area.

One major project that broke ground in June is the widening of the Jamboree Road bridge over the 73 Freeway.

Commuters in the area may drive more freely in coming years, as the city works to avoid projected congestion. Newport Beach approved about 1,500 condos or apartments just north of there, and developers continue to build out the Jamboree Road Corridor in Irvine.

"Traffic flow remains a high priority for the city," said Leslie Daigle, the councilwoman who represents the area. "The bridge is a significant capacity improvement."

The $6-million bridge project was cleared after the city settled an eminent domain case with the owner of the Back Bay Court shopping center earlier this year. To add a southbound lane approaching the bridge, the city had to buy about 0.13 acres of land on the edge of the strip center at Bristol Street and Jamboree.

"We were not trying to sell that place, but that's the way the world works," said one of the center's owners, Frank Dabby, who had rejected the city's original offer of $452,000. "We all felt it was better to end the issue."

In the beginning of the year, the city settled for $875,000. The strip on the edge of the center is now under construction, and the project is expected to be finished by the end of the year, according to the city website.

Newport has allocated about $3.5 million for the bridge project, which came from the settlement of a lawsuit with Irvine in 2009, Daigle said. Newport had sued its neighbor because of traffic and other impacts from development along Jamboree. Additional funds could come from the state or the Orange County Transportation Authority's Measure M program, according to the Newport Beach website.

Another planned construction project is the $3.7 million widening of the Jamboree intersection with MacArthur Boulevard. Expected to begin in the fall, the project would add a northbound lane on Jamboree through the MacArthur intersection, and an additional left-turn lane on southbound Jamboree to southbound MacArthur.

Other proposed improvements include new landscaping along Bristol Street North between Jamboree and Campus Drive, which the city allocated $73,000 for in this year's budget. That initial money will go toward hiring a landscape architect. Construction costs have not been determined.

The city's Neighborhood Revitalization Committee is set to study the streetscape along Bristol Street South, and will make recommendations for improvements.

"The council is enhancing the attractiveness of gateways into the city," Daigle said.

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