It would be tremendously expensive. That is what Newport Beach Mayor Nancy Gardner told me when I emailed her with my humble idea about how to solve traffic problems along the section of East Coast Highway that goes through the flower streets.
The recent traffic study on the squeeze lane at Coast Highway and MacArthur Boulevard showed that no improvement would result by reducing the lanes from three to two.
When I first heard of the concept, I actually thought the idea of having more outdoor dinning would be great, but I also realized the traffic delays would not be solved by simply pushing the problem back a few blocks. You cannot use a Band-aid to fix a virus.
Do city officials have any reasonable expectations that fewer cars will be driving by Coast Highway during the upcoming decades? It wasn't so much the idea that was short sighted, but the fact that the city needed an official "study" to figure this was no magic bullet. This study seems to be a way to claim no responsibility for a possible failure.
Here are the facts, Corona del Mar lacks what Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach possess — namely, a touristy area — which, I suspect, is fine with most locals.
Those cities have so much to offer to visitors, yet somehow we have the same traffic jams every weekend, as they do. People want to get to Laguna, people want to get the other way, but we are in their way.
Here is my thought: Since the heart of Corona del Mar is primarily used and supported by residents, it makes sense that residents should have priority on the matter. Wouldn't it be interesting to turn the area between say, Fearnleaf and Poppy avenues, into a brick-paved promenade?
A place for people to walk, children to play on kid-friendly fountains or maybe a sprinkle water park or our old carousel (now in Irvine), especially since our kids are now persona non-grata at the updated and up-scaled Fashion Island.
A promenade could be a place where people could eat, drink and then make their way to the Port Theatre for an afternoon flick. People could shop from a street vendor, listen to a jazzsinger, or relax on benches and use the Internet.
To make the idea even sweeter, imagine the Laguna Beach residents, their tourists and everyone else who just speeds through our town headed to other destinations, driving down MacArthur and turning left on East Coast Highway and right into an underpass that would take them straight up to Crystal Cove with no lights in between.
In and out, in seconds. Too expensive? Heck yes. Impossible? Only if a geologist says it is.
No doubt the details would be many. Such an underpass, however, would help the traffic flow, encourage local walking, send bicyclists right through under our feet, create a hub for neighbors to meet.
Such a change would give residents a new lifestyle to be enjoyed for generations to come.
JAVIER REYNA lives in Corona del Mar.