By Jill Cowan
8:34 PM PST, November 5, 2012
The proposed 19th Street bridge, a project that has generated contention for years as it has teetered on the edge of existence, may be back on its way to being deleted from the Orange County Transportation Authority's Master Plan of Arterial Highways.
The OCTA board's Regional Planning and Highways Committee voted 6 to 1 Monday morning to recommend that the board eliminate the bridge from the plan, OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said.
The board is expected to consider the recommendation at its Nov. 26 meeting.
While the cities of Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach have been in favor of erasing the bridge from the plan, Newport Beach has lobbied to keep it on the table.
Newport officials have argued that the bridge — which would span the Santa Ana River and connect Costa Mesa to Huntington Beach — would help mitigate increased traffic in the area. Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach officials, on the other hand, say the bridge would infringe on wildlife and negatively impact their communities.
Monday's meeting, Zlotnik said, followed six months of studying the matter, and that was only the most recent in a long line of actions to reconsider the bridge's inclusion in the plan.
"The idea for the 19th Street bridge has been around for decades," Zlotnik said. "That was sort of the sentiment among the board members who voted to remove it, that this has been studied and reviewed and analyzed a tremendous amount not only in the last six months but in the last number of years, and I think what a couple of them said was it's really time to make a decision on it."