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Cities have little time in bridge fight

May 15, 2003

Deirdre Newman

City officials are redoubling efforts to get two long-planned bridges

deleted from county maps to avoid having a decision on the

controversial construction made for them.

The two bridges at issue would connect Gisler Avenue to Garfield

Street, which divides Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, and 19th

Street to Banning Avenue in Huntington Beach.

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On Monday, the Orange County Transportation Authority postponed

for 30 to 60 days its decision on providing funding to Fountain

Valley to study the Gisler bridge.

The delay was to give the three cities that would be affected one

last chance to come to a consensus. Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach

oppose the bridge.

The only way to agree to eliminate the Gisler bridge is to agree

to eliminate the 19th Street bridge, since both removals have been

examined previously, Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan said. This

requires coming up with ways to lessen the traffic in the region

without bridges and is also predicated on the approval of Newport

Beach, since it supports the 19th Street bridge.

Fountain Valley's request for funding is forcing a decision on

thorny issues that have stalled for years, which is a positive step,

Monahan said.

"Costa Mesa does not believe the bridges needs to be built and is

doing everything we can to delete them," Monahan said. "There will be

give and take on both sides. There will be some mitigation measures

we may not be happy with, but they will be better than a bridge and

less expensive, and the cities need to sit down and hammer it out so

it's not hammered out for them by [the authority]."

The Gisler bridge pits Fountain Valley against Huntington Beach

and Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa officials and some residents are concerned about

cut-through traffic racing through their neighborhood to the Costa

Mesa Freeway. Residents on the Huntington Beach side of Garfield

Street also adamantly oppose the bridge. But officials in Fountain

Valley, which owns the other side of Garfield, want to alleviate

increased traffic in their city.

The 19th Street bridge pits Newport Beach against Huntington Beach

and Costa Mesa.

Newport Beach wants the bridge to expedite traffic flow between it

and Huntington Beach. Residents around Banning Street in Huntington

Beach are against it, and Costa Mesa officials again fear it will be

only used as a cut-through.

A study of the bridges, the Santa Ana River Crossing Study that

the four cities commissioned to research the effects of removing the

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