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Streets' Loss Will Be Pedestrians' Gain

February 15, 1996|JULIE FATE SULLIVAN

To create a more shopper-friendly environment downtown, city officials announced plans this week to narrow the busy stretch of Pacific Coast Highway and Del Prado Avenue that runs through Town Center and free up more space for pedestrians.

The highway would shrink from six lanes to four between Street of the Green Lantern and the San Juan Creek, which would allow more space for trees, benches and sidewalks, said Mort August, director of public works.

The plan would bring the city one step closer to its vision of a revitalized downtown by creating an environment where people could more easily walk, bike and shop.

"We've got all of that asphalt out there, and we want to return it to landscaping," August said. "We want our city to be a nice place. We want it to be an asset."

The California Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the coastal highway, has agreed to the project, said Dale Ratzlaff, Caltrans' district division chief of planning.

But before any further action is taken, the city must also won approval from the Orange County Transportation Authority, August said. The issue would then go before the City Council for approval, possibly in April.

Narrowing the highway is part of a broader downtown renewal proposal that could cost as much as $10 million, August said. The first phase, set to begin this summer, will include planting hundreds of trees in Town Center, August said.

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