Plans To Strangle East 19th Street Traffic Discussed
Last night a small group - approximately 35 people - of mostly Eastside Costa Mesa neighbors gathered at Kaiser Elementary School to hear representatives of the City discuss plans to "calm" the traffic on East 19th Street from Irvine Avenue at the Newport Beach border to Newport Boulevard at the terminus of the 55 Freeway.
Transportation Services Manager Raja Sethuramin led the 90-minute discussion, which included a PowerPoint presentation of some options considered, and visitors had a chance to view story boards around the room that reflected plans for specific segments of that roadway, showed intersection improvements and plant selections being considered for this $855,000 project.
LIVELY Q & A SESSION
Most of the evening was taken up with a lively question and answer session in which the "success" of the recent Broadway project frequently was used as an example for this pending project. According to Sethuramin and residents of that street, the traffic calming measures taken have been effective for what was a very busy neighborhood street.
"CHOKERS" AT INTERSECTIONS
Plans for East 19th Street include the installation of traffic "chokers" at intersections, which will effectively slow down the flow by squeezing it by the throat at intersections. New center dividers will be installed at the ends of the street, at Fullerton Avenue and at the approach of Irvine Avenue. New community markers stating "Eastside Costa Mesa" will be installed in those landscaped dividers. Because 19th Street is narrower than Broadway - 10 feet or more according to one resident who was active on the Broadway project - there is no room for centerline planters as was done on that street.
Residents expressed concern - just as many did at the first of these meetings in January - that slowing the traffic along 19th Street will simply force it to parallel streets, like Costa Mesa Street, Flower Street and 18th Street. According to Sethuramin, studies show that this likely will not happen - even though that flies in the face of logic.
TIME TO SPEAK UP
Since the City is presently in the midst of updating the General Plan, now is the time for residents to express their views on issues like density, traffic, affordable housing, etc. They can do so by speaking at City Council meetings and/or Planning Commission meetings and by writing to the City Council. Contact information for them can be found HERE.
NEXT STOP, PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
The next stop on this project will be the presentation by the staff of the landscape plans, including choices for the monument signs, to the Parks and Recreation Commission - probably at their meeting on May 24th. Interestingly, when Sethuramin tried to take the pulse of the audience to determine their preference of the four examples provided last night the results were almost equally split among all four. There certainly was no clear consensus by that group.
CONSTRUCTION NEXT YEAR
Presuming that this project will go forward, and that the staff will successfully locate grant funding - mention was made of the Federal Safe Route To School program - construction won't begin until 2015. There's still plenty of time for those concerned to make their views known to the City Council and staff. Information about this project will appear on the City Website.