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City at work on intersection safeguards

Improvements begin at the scene of several accidents.

February 27, 2007|By Alicia Robinson

About three weeks after a rollover truck accident that narrowly missed being fatal, Newport Beach officials have taken a number of steps to increase safety at Newport Coast Drive and Pelican Hill Road, and they're working on doing more.

In the Feb. 2 accident, a cement truck tipped during a right turn from Newport Coast Drive onto Pelican Hill Road North. It was the fifth such accident in the area since July 2004 and the second at that intersection, and residents told the City Council safety has long been an issue there.

Soon after the accident, the city put up a sign to warn trucks of the tipping danger on Newport Coast Drive, and the city put out a trailer that monitors and displays the speed of vehicles heading south on Newport Coast Drive, City Councilman Keith Curry said.

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Curry and Councilwoman Nancy Gardner drew up a list of safety concerns and possible remedies that the council approved Feb. 13.

A message board is expected to go up this week to tell trucks to turn at Pelican Hill Road South, the southern end of a loop road, rather than the north end of the road, and the Irvine Co. agreed to fine trucks $1,000 for using Pelican Hill Road South. The south end of the road is closed for a major Irvine Co. construction project.

While the accident was being cleaned up, some residents complained of being trapped in their neighborhoods off the Pelican Hill loop. In the event of another such accident, Irvine Co. officials have agreed to open a gate at Pelican Hill Road South so residents can exit, Curry said.

City officials also are talking with the Montecito homeowners association about getting an easement to widen the right turn from Newport Coast Drive to Pelican Hill Road North.

"Part of the problem is trucks come down at a very high rate of speed and have to take a very tight turn," Curry said.

If the homeowners association agrees, the council could put the turn improvements in next year's budget.

Curry said residents have been positive about the city's response.

"They understand that we take this problem very seriously and we're moving to get it resolved," he said.

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