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Temporary bridge opens over Balboa Island’s Grand Canal; old one awaits replacement

Newport Beach officials cut the ribbon Monday morning on a temporary bridge over Balboa Island’s Grand Canal and broke ground on a replacement for the 86-year-old Park Avenue bridge nearby.

Mayor Diane Dixon and City Council colleagues Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, Ed Selich, Tony Petros and Scott Peotter participated in the opening of the temporary steel bridge on Balboa Avenue that will stand in as the connector of Little Balboa Island and the big island while the Park Avenue span is being demolished and replaced.

After cutting yellow caution tape to open that bridge, the contingent made its way south to the Park Avenue bridge for a ceremony symbolizing the start of construction on the replacement project.

An electronic sign was posted on the Balboa Island entry bridge and signs were placed on Marine Avenue to alert motorists and pedestrians about the change.

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Crossing guards will be at the intersection of Marine and Balboa avenues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until Sept. 5.

Demolition of the Park Avenue bridge is expected in late June, with completion of its replacement scheduled for early 2017.

Dixon said it was an exciting day that was “a long time in coming.”

She also expressed appreciation for the patience of residents and motorists. “It’s a lot of inconvenience for people, and I really apologize on behalf of the city,” Dixon said.

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“It’s a fast-paced project, thanks to the municipal operations, public works, gas company and everybody pulling together to make this project work quickly,” she added. “Hopefully we’ll be done in January.”

City officials began talking publicly about replacing the Park Avenue bridge several years ago after the state designated the structure as “functionally obsolete,” meaning it was entering the last stages of its usable life. The new bridge will be aesthetically similar, officials say.

The project is intended to improve traffic and pedestrian access on the new bridge with wider sidewalks and street lanes, enhanced safety and improved under-bridge navigation, with fewer pilings.

In February, the City Council approved a $6.3-million contract with Gardena-based John S. Meek Co. to build the temporary Balboa Avenue bridge and the replacement for the Park Avenue bridge.

Work on the temporary bridge began in March.

For more information on the replacement project, visit parkavebridge.com.


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