The Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project's most important segment, the Blue Line Trolley from the Old Town Transit Center to the University City/UTC area and University of California, San Diego campus, was on the agenda for review at the San Diego Association of Governments Transportation Committee meeting on March 19. It was a positive item for the agenda with tremendous support from the SANDAG Board at the meeting.
County Supervisor Ron Roberts (4th District) is chairman of the Transit Project Working Group and a member of SANDAG's Transportation Committee. The presentation by Roberts was outstanding. Roberts has also served on the Metropolitan Transit Board for more than 20 years both as a San Diego City Councilman and as a member of the Board of Supervisors.
All members of SANDAG's committee were also positive and SANDAG's Executive Director Gary Gallegos made excellent points on the importance of the project to the San Diego Region. Gallegos is a real transportation professional and was named the outstanding district director of the 12 CalTrans Districts just before he was appointed by SANDAG as its executive director in 2001 to succeed the retiring Ken Sulzer.
The bottom line is that the UCSD and UTC areas need good transit services. The great plus for San Diego State was discussed from the completion of the green trolley line. The green line starts in Santee, goes through El Cajon and LaMesa to the SDSU campus, Qualcomm Stadium and on through Mission Valley to Old Town, where it connects with the blue line to then go south to downtown San Diego and on south to the border area. The stop at SDSU is in the heart of campus and near Viejas Arena where Aztec basketball games now have great attendance. Many students and visitors are now taking the green line trolley instead of driving to the campus.
The effectiveness of the blue line extension will be a significantly higher number of new transit riders and more direct service between major market areas. UCSD students/faculty and others will have a way to get to the campus without driving. More transit usage to the area will also relieve some of the traffic on interstates 5 and 805 and also on Genesee Avenue, which connects University City and take traffic off state Route 52. Genesee still needs more relief and there is a real need for the not yet approved extension of Regents Road from University City to UTC. The high Regents Road bridge over Rose Canyon was approved by the City Council in 2006 but opposition continues on this important project which will then allow Genesee to then be upgraded which cannot be done now due to its high traffic volume. The San Diego area has many bridges over canyons, like Rose Canyon, which then provide environmental protection.
The funding possibilities for the blue line are a real plus. SANDAG has about $600 million (50 percent of the estimated $1.2 million costs). The other $600 million is being requested from federal funding. The green line funding received a big percentage of federal funding and SANDAG and MTS did another great job in getting the needed federal funding. SANDAG recently did a fine job in obtaining substantial funding for the SR-905 freeway just north of the Mexican border where the additional lanes/upgrades will improve a tie to the second border crossing and also the proposed third border crossing to the east which will later be connected by the proposed SR 11 toll road from the third Border Crossing to connect to SR 905 and other areas to the west. Traffic in the area is expected to triple by 2030.
SANDAG and MTS are still studying two possible trolley connections in the UCSD and UTC areas besides going through Rose Canyon. SANDAG's Board reviewed the project March 26 and its Transportation Committee will make a final recommendation April 16 and the full SANDAG Board will review the project again April 23 and then make its final decision in July.
In summary, the Mid-Coast Corridor Project/Blue Line extension will be a real plus not only for the UCSD and UTC areas but for the entire region. Thanks to SANDAG, MTS and civic leaders like Supervisor Ron Roberts for leading the way to get this important project for San Diego. It will happen!
Schmidt is a retired banker and attorney who is active with the chamber of commerce and in civic affairs in transportation, housing and sports. He also serves on two public boards and was Gov. Reagan's appointee to three positions in state government.