"We do not believe that it is appropriate to dismiss good regional transportation policy and cooperation between the cities, county, Caltrans and OCTA to hurry this up," Gardner wrote in a Monday letter to OCTA's board of directors. "As a result, Newport Beach is conflicted about filing a lawsuit against of its valued partners, OCTA."
Gardner offered two alternatives to legal action.
The first is for Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Newport to agree to traffic-reducing measures in lieu of the bridge and to demote the arterial route to "reserve" status. This designation would mean the bridge is not used in regional transportation planning and it would be removed from the plan when the rest of the area's projects are done.
The second would keep the bridge off the master plan, but get a guarantee from the other cities that agreed-upon traffic reduction measures will be executed.
"I think that one of the things that happens, we all talk about how we want to work together and everything — I think there's good motive there — but the fact of the matter is you tend to get focused on your own city," Gardner said in an interview Tuesday. "It's easy to forget. Even with the best intentions, if we have [a guarantee] there, then we have a great reminder."
Newport has been the lone holdout in keeping the proposed bridge linking Costa Mesa's Westside and Huntington Beach at Banning Avenue over the Santa Ana River on the map.
Costa Mesa and Huntington residents strongly oppose the 19th Street Bridge, fearing it will bring additional traffic. Supporters, however, believe it will reduce traffic on the area's three primary crossings over the Santa Ana River: Adams Avenue and Victoria Street in Costa Mesa, and Pacific Coast Highway in Newport.