Newport council approves $2-million bridge

NEWPORT BEACH — The City Council voted Tuesday night to build a $2-million pedestrian bridge linking two portions of its planned Civic Center.

Despite criticism from some who said the bridge would be a waste of money, a 4-3 majority approved the addition.

The Civic Center construction project swelled over the years into a $130-million plan, and during the tight economy the City Council has made a priority of trimming costs. The council majority decided Tuesday to add what some called a vital component.

"Once the price is forgotten, the quality remains," said Councilman Ed Selich, who made a long statement about why it was necessary. "We'll all look back with pride on it and congratulate ourselves … "

Proponents argued that the intersection of San Miguel Drive and Avocado Avenue would be safer with a bridge linking the two proposed parks in the Civic Center, and that it would help traffic flow. They also said the bridge would provide a great view of the ocean.

The most vocal critic was Councilman Steve Rosansky, who will be termed out in 2012 and has recently been unbridled in his opinions. Councilwomen Nancy Gardner and Leslie Daigle also dissented.

Rosansky and others said using contingency funds to pay for the bridge might be shortsighted, in case of unforeseen construction problems.

"At best, it's premature. At worst, it's just a $2-million waste of money," he said.

Public Works Director Steve Badum sought to assure the council that most of the Civic Center's future construction costs had been vetted.

"The whole team is feeling very confident," he said.

Twitter: @mreicher

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