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Mailbag: Columnist misstated 19th Street Bridge action

April 04, 2012

Re. "Wu: Vote on bridge helps in Newport, hurts in Assembly race," April 1:

Jack Wu, the self-described opinion columnist ("not a journalist"), got the basic facts wrong in his recent column on the deletion of the long-considered 19th Street Bridge extension from the county's Master Plan of Arterial Highways (MPAH). I know what a vote is, and it's not a hanging chad.

The city attorney, the city's chief legal officer, stated in an email to the editor that there was a "concurrence" about the issue.

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Recognizing that a "concurrence" is not a formal expression of choice, a vote will take place at the City Council's next executive session. Given that deletion of the bridge has impacts in multiple cities, my position is that the county transportation arm, the Orange County Transportation Authority, needs to convene a mitigation group of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa to first do an appropriate traffic study, then recommend appropriate mitigation measures now that the OCTA board has removed the 19th Street Bridge from the MPAH.

I hope we get there without litigation.

Over the years, local cities have been approving significant development based on the assumption that the bridge would be built to handle traffic. Without the bridge, other measures need to be pursued to mitigate the impacts of additional traffic in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa.

Just as we need more classrooms and teachers and storage of drinking water, we need infrastructure improvements when we add development to meet our expanding population needs and demands.

Because the bridge has been part of the county's backbone of infrastructure, studies show that without the bridge, impacts to intersections occur in all the three cities, including: Brookhurst Street and Hamilton Avenue in Huntington Beach; Newport Boulevard at Hospital Road in Newport Beach; and Superior Avenue at 17th Street in Costa Mesa.

The Pilot's columnist mischaracterized the impacts as limited to Newport Beach.

Newport's engineers have been working for years with the county on the eventuality of the bridge being deleted from the MPAH. They have made significant progress identifying the impacts of "no bridge" and establishing a list of improvements to offset those impacts.

One of the problems in Sacramento today is that leaders aren't bold enough to sit down with opposing sides. We do this locally just fine. We roll up our sleeves and work with our neighboring cities on areas of common concern.

We can do this here. We can complete these studies and agree on a set of improvements that offset the impacts of no bridge. Let's hope we can get everyone to the table without having to compel them to participate through legal action.

Leslie Daigle

Newport Beach

Editor's note: The writer is a city councilwoman.

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