Volume 8, Issue 44  |  June 2, 2023Subscribe

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Council gets “early look” at upcoming capital improvement projects


During a study session this week, city staff presented an “early look” at the preliminary new projects and funding proposed for the FY 2023-24 capital improvement program for council review and discussion.

Staff has done a good job on the project list and it’s important that they build and invest in the future, said Mayor Noah Blom at the meeting on Tuesday (March 28).

“We look at every one of these projects and the reinvestment into this city is so important to everyone that sits up here,” he said. “We’re looking for the best way forward in all of these ideals.”

Staff starts work on the CIP in January during the council’s planning session, explained Public Works Director Dave Webb. After hearing the key priorities and goals with some general direction, they go to all departments and find out about their needs, he noted.

“This is an exciting time every year for us as we put together the capital improvement program,” Webb said. 

It’s essentially a summary of the projects headed to council in the upcoming year, he added.

Public Works Deputy Director Jim Houlihan explained that the goals for the allocation of the CIP include: Budget focuses resources on maintaining or replacing existing infrastructure to keep it in good working condition; includes $6 million baseline general fund investment towards citywide infrastructure maintenance and repair; includes $2.5 million for facility maintenance master plan projects and $1 million for parks maintenance master plan projects. 

Some of the significant projects under construction: Junior lifeguard facility; Sunset View Park and Superior Avenue pedestrian bridge; Balboa Boulevard and Newport Coast Drive pavement rehabilitation; West Irvine Terrace and Balboa Island water main replacement; 16th Street pump station upgrades and backup generator; water transmission main valve replacement; Peninsula tidegate improvement project and Gateway Park landscape improvements.

It’s been challenging to work on these projects with all the rain this winter, Houlihan noted. 

Answering a question from the council, Houlihan explained that the foundation is down and the walls are formed for the junior lifeguard facility. They are at least a month behind where they thought they’d be due to the weather, he noted. 

“They’re trying to accelerate it,” he said, noting that they’ve started working on Saturdays to try and catch up. “We’re working to bring that back into the box as quickly as we can.”

If the NBJG program starts before the building is completed, there will still be safety measures in place, noted Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill.

“I recognize that this water has not been helpful for that so I appreciate the effort,” O’Neill said.

Council gets early look at upcoming Jr Lifeguard

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Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A rendering of the planned Junior Lifeguard facility, one of the big projects currently under construction

Councilmember Brad Avery asked about the scope of the damage from the winter rain, in terms of road repair and various damage.

There are some infrastructure issues to deal with, Webb noted, but the roads held up pretty well. There are a few potholes, but nothing major. The biggest concern is the beaches and ongoing southerly swells, he added. Some of the beaches have had a lot of additional erosion due to the storms. 

There is a notable investment in infrastructure projects in the CIP.

The preliminary FY 2023-24 CIP shows a tentative total of approximately $72.3 million ($29 million in new funding and $43.3 million in assumed re-budgeting). It’s a little tighter this year compared to last year’s $103.4 million CIP, Houlihan noted. 

“We’re working with the resources we have,” he said. 

In the re-budgeted items (assumed from the upcoming July 1 meeting), some of the large projects include $10.8 million for the library lecture hall, $1.9 million for the Newport Bay water wheel, $900,000 for Newport Coast pickleball courts, $3.4 million for Balboa and Newport boulevards pavement project, $7 million for city yard fueling and transfer station and $6.4 million for the Balboa Island drainage improvement project.

These six projects represent 70% of the re-budget, Houlihan explained.

In new funding, some of the larger or notable projects include: $850,000 for the 15th Street restroom replacement; $3.64 million for East Coast Highway pavement rehabilitation; $500,000 for the streetlight rehabilitation program; $1.3 million for the Newport Bay trash wheel; $800,000 for Balboa yacht basin docks replacement; $500,000 for the design of the Balboa Island seawall in the ferry landing area; $1.92 million for phase three of the Balboa Island water main replacement and $200,000 to study a fleet electrification program.

Houlihan provided specifics on some of the significant projects.

The 15th Street restroom is under design right now, Houlihan said. They are anticipating getting through permitting in the second half of the fiscal year of 2024, with construction to follow.

 The East Coast Highway pavement rehabilitation is the section between Jamboree and MacArthur roads. The city is responsible for this portion of the highway, Houlihan noted. It’s a large project that is currently under design. Caltrans will start repaving Coast Highway from the Santa Ana River to Jamboree next fall.

Councilmember Erik Weigand emphasized that Caltrans should coordinate with the city to determine the most appropriate time for construction. 

The state agency actually wanted to start in April and finish in summer, Houlihan added, but city staff asked them to push it until after Labor Day. Houlihan is unsure about the hours of work.

The state is not as flexible as the city on that, Webb added, but they will provide input for hours that are the least impactful on residents.

Council gets early look at upcoming trash wheel

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Rendering courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A rendering of the trash-collecting water wheel proposed for San Diego Creek, near Upper Newport Bay

Regarding the Newport Bay trash wheel, they still need about $1.3 million of proposed new funding. They went out to bid on Wednesday and are hoping for the best, Houlihan said. Staff will know more in about a month. They will continue to work on the funding for that project, he added. 

The Balboa yacht basin docks have been in place for almost 40 years, Houlihan said, and they are due to be replaced. They are showing a lot of signs of age. This is just the design phase of the project, he noted, the construction will come in an upcoming fiscal year. 

The Harbor Commission will be involved in the design once that process starts, Webb confirmed, answering a council question. 

The seawall design project will include other features, like restrooms, for the ferry landing area of Balboa Island, Houlihan said.

“We’re going to be looking specifically at that area for a design that works, both for the Beeks and for the city in that location,” Houlihan said.

They are also looking at a study for electrification of the fleet and getting a plan in place. The state is looking at transitioning the big equipment in the short-term, Houlihan said. City staff has already worked with Southern California Edison for a free “quick look” and the next step is to get some consultants on board.

In other projects, Houlihan mentioned a few notable items: The annual traffic signal program will work on the airport area this year; the park maintenance master plan will fund the work brought forth through the assessment that will be done this year and a study for new wells and pipeline in Fountain Valley, while the work is likely 10 years out.

Reviewing the proposed 2023-24 FY new funding projects by funding type, Houlihan noted that there are a few items going through the general fund, but most of the projects are specialized funding. 

The significance of those numbers is that about $10 million from the general fund going toward the CIP this year, Webb added, which is about one-third of the entire $29 million total for new funding projects.

“We use a lot of other funds to balance this,” Webb said. 

There are also a lot of private-public partnership contributions for certain projects, like the library lecture hall, he added. 

In the five-year look ahead, staff estimates some timelines for some important upcoming projects, including Balboa library and fire station no. 1 in FY 2024-25, Newport Pier and McFadden Square rehabilitation and replacement in 2026-27, and West Coast Highway and Superior Avenue intersection improvements and pedestrian bridge in FY 2027-28.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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