Council: MacArthur Boulevard plan requires study

Newport Beach City Council members agreed that a traffic study could make or break plans for a beautification project at the MacArthur Boulevard entry to Corona del Mar — but whether the study would begin in July or wait until next spring remains unresolved.

At a study session meeting last week, Mayor Nancy Gardner said that the study could prove the project unfeasible.

"If the test blows up in our face, we have to start over," she said. "Is it plausible to do it?"

City staff said the study would involve removing nine parking spaces along East Coast Highway at MacArthur, as well as using paint and possibly Botts Dots to move the merge from Carnation toward Dahlia avenues. The entryway plans include converting the former traffic lane to a wider sidewalk.

The traffic study would cost about $25,000, which the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District (BID) has agreed to pay.

BID Chairman Bernie Svalstad asked that the council agree to provide staff to assist beyond the installation of the traffic changes. He also asked that the study be done as soon as possible.

Staff said the striping could be in place as soon as July, and possibly be left in place through the end of the year to let residents get a true feel for its impact. Council members and staff also discussed whether a July installation date would provide adequate time for public outreach.

Some residents spoke at the meeting, suggesting that the test be conducted after the Civic Center construction is complete at year's end in order to get a more realistic feel for future traffic flow. Another resident suggested that California Costal Commission permits might be needed for a traffic study.

In the end, the council agreed to the funding with hopes that the BID group would pay, but it was not clear if staff would conduct the test this summer, or wait until March 2013 to begin the work.

"Staff will get back to us as to the viability of doing it this summer," Gardner wrote in an email Wednesday.

Construction costs for the project are $1.2 million and will not be included in the 2012 city budget.

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