17th Street among projects to get OCTA funds

October 25, 2000

Jennifer Kho

COSTA MESA -- The Orange County Transportation Authority this month

approved more than $1.9 million in grants to the city.

"We have an awful lot of projects that are very important to the

traffic system in Costa Mesa and these will fill a lot of holes," Mayor

Gary Monahan said of the six grants. "We're proud of the traffic

division. While there will be some traffic delays, they will eventually


improve traffic considerably."

The biggest project to receive grant funding is the controversial East

17th Street Improvement Project. It would receive $577,000 from the

authority if it goes forward.

The city is conducting an environmental analysis of plans to widen the

street to six lanes and add bus turnouts and turn lanes.

Residents and business owners in the area oppose the project, saying

it would ruin the "mom and pop" atmosphere on the popular thoroughfare.

Seven members of the East 17th Street Merchants and Community Assn.

spoke against the plan at a City Council meeting last week and submitted

a petition with 8,725 signatures opposing the widening.

"We're hoping they won't get all the money because they won't go

through with [the street widening,]" Dan Perlmutter, an association

leader, said about the grant. "We're convinced they are going to use part

of the money for bus turnouts, beautification, left-turn arrows and wider

sidewalks, but we don't want them to widen the street to six lanes."

The Costa Mesa funds, part of $77 million in grants distributed

countywide, will also pay for signal improvements at the intersection of

Bristol Street and Newport Boulevard; cameras at three intersections:

Harbor Boulevard and Adams Avenue, Bristol and Sunflower, and Fairview

Road and Baker Street; a southbound right-turn lane at Fairview Road and

Adams Avenue; a westbound right-turn lane at Harbor Boulevard and

Victoria Street; and widening of Newport Boulevard.

George Urch, an OCTA spokesman, said the authority selected projects

that will most benefit regional or countywide traffic.

"Not all our transportation is on our freeway system," Urch said. "A

large percentage is on surface streets, and we want to improve traffic on

those by improving things like regional interchanges, intersections ...

[and] signals. By helping to improve traffic on surface streets, we can

hopefully encourage people to take them."

The authority also selected projects it deemed likely to come to

fruition, he said, but the grants do not obligate the city to complete

the projects.

Most of the projects -- including the 17th Street project -- are

funded in stages, including environmental review and design and

construction. If a project goes through only part of the process, it will

receive part of the money, Urch said.

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