Broadway might be a traffic-filled destination street in some cities, but in Costa Mesa, a city project is attempting to make it the very opposite.
The two-lane Eastside street, which spans the distance from Newport Boulevard to Irvine Avenue, is undergoing an estimated $1.17-million renovation that aims to deter and slow traffic by adding mid-block medians and intersection "chokers."
The Broadway Safe Route to Schools Project also makes sure no parking is lost, adds an asphalt layer on top of the concrete, completes sidewalks and adds drought-tolerant landscaping.
Although still underway, the project is receiving mixed reactions. Some are already praising its success in slowing down vehicles, but others question the safety of those "crazy planters."
Mary Makena says she has been subject to more than her fair share of vehicle noise since moving into her home at Broadway and Santa Ana Avenue in 1979.
"It was more like a racetrack," she said, adding that she did noise-reduction work on the walls, windows and roof of her house. She even added a fountain and waterfall outside.
Still, the noise was "incredible," as were the four drunk drivers who "plowed into my yard, right up to the waterfall," she said.
Now, with the mitigation project, Makena finds that she can sleep with her windows open for the first time.
"My goal was always that Broadway will look as good as Floral Park in Santa Ana," Makena said of that city's historic district of Craftsman homes and Spanish bungalows.
Richard Herman, who lives on nearby Costa Mesa Street, in a published letter to the Daily Pilot, called each planter "a collision waiting to happen."
They weren't visible at night until the city added flashing lights and other reflectors, he said.
In an interview, he expressed concerns that the bike lanes may be hazardous alongside the car lanes. The whole setup, he alleged, can ruin property values and, consequently, the tax base — all for an "obstacle course" en route to Westcliff Plaza off Irvine Avenue.
No safety issues foreseen
City officials said they don't foresee safety issues between bikes and vehicles, but if there are any, the city will seek appropriate solutions as time progresses.
Emergency vehicles will also have enough clearance to get through, and the medians and chokers will be visible at night, officials said.
Eastside residents have been complaining about traffic and excessive speed on Broadway for years. City Hall decided to try the medians as a potential solution to a longtime problem.
This kind of mitigating solution is the first of its kind in Costa Mesa, but not in the county.
It's been done in Seal Beach, Santa Ana and elsewhere, said Raja Sethuraman, the city's transportation services manager.
The city also met about five times with residents before the project began, he said.