Monday, March 31, 2008

First SR 55 Access Study Workshop

Tonight, at the Neighborhood Community Center, representatives of the Orange County Transportation Authority and the City of Costa Mesa presented an overview of the current plans for the mitigation of the traffic problems on Newport Boulevard from the terminus of the Costa Mesa Freeway at 19th Street to the city limits at Industrial Way.

This was the first such workshop and it played to a packed, standing-room-only crowd, some of whom were more than a little vocal. This meeting is the first of two - the second will be held in the City Council Chambers at City Hall on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 from 6:30 - 8:30. A third such meeting will be held in Newport Beach on April 10th to provide it's residents a chance to chime in on this issue.

It was clear from the tone of the questions tonight that many folks attending this meeting were very apprehensive about a "solution" being decided without having been given a chance to provide input. This is understandable, since this process has been going on for more than 6 months and this is the first such opportunity for the general public to express their views. Meetings have previously been held with city government and business owners plus a select few "stakeholders" - a description that certainly fit every person in attendance tonight. Some speakers were clearly nervous about being left out and some were quite hostile toward the officials present.

The charts provided good information about the current roster of alternatives. These are, according to the folks who led the meeting, not the only options available, but represent the current thinking of those people in OCTA and Cal Trans who have studied this subject. Following the other public workshops those responsible will cull through the suggestions and concerns and try to generate three or four alternatives for consideration. At that time representatives of the various government entities involved will consider each and attempt to make a final determination of the right solution.

Speakers indicated that this is a long-term issue - that nothing could happen for at least 5 years, maybe longer - once a final plan is adopted. Approvals and funding must be secured before the first shovel of dirt is turned - a long, complicated, expensive process.

So, if you have an interest in how the traffic flows through our city at that location I encourage each of you to attend the next workshop or to communicate directly with the OCTA and/or the City of Costa Mesa Transportations Services Department with your thoughts.

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