Will the City Council choose to take the bridge and widening of Genesee out of the community plan? It's been neighbor against neighbor, if not brother against brother. Some call it an East-West war, but that may be a myth. People east of Genesee have supported the no-bridge attitude and people west of Genesee have done the opposite. For certain, heated words have been exchanged and friendships have been tested in this tightly knit community of University City.
The University Community Planning Group supported the decision to take out the bridge and widening of Genesee, according to Andy Wiese, chair of the subcommittee. A visit to the San Diego Planning Group on Oct. 27 shocked the UCPG when the chair, Bill Whelan, made a motion to build the bridge and take the widening of Genesee out. Whelan at one time was vice chair when Harry Mathis was chair of the UCPG about 30 years ago.
How did this happen? According to Janay Kruger, the current chair said: "The recognized UCPG spent dozens of hours reviewing the EIR (environmental impact report), the traffic plan update, community plan, studying five alternatives with 23 mitigation measures. We had overwhelming support from the environmental community and residents."
Significant conversations around emergency response time does not take Fire Station Squad No. 56 on Governor Drive into consideration. There is absence of good data. Some locals think the San Diego Planning group couldn't have read the EIR (environmental impact report). Former City Council representative, Harry Mathis, a U.C. resident and personal friend of mine, was convincing in his argument for the bridge before San Diego Planning Group who voted 6-0 in favor, while anti-bridge speakers felt their voices went unheard.
On Nov. 9, UCPG held a public meeting to discuss this situation and brought in a traffic engineer. We are in a new century. Times have changed and we have evolved to recognize what UCPG member Roger Cavanaugh shared. "We are looking to the future. The one car/one driver solution is outdated from the 1990s. We must be prudent with taxpayers' money. We must minimize the one/car/one driver situation and move on." (The bridge is estimated to cost over $60 million).
Those in favor of the bridge argue it has been in the plan for four decades and the job must be done. However, a plan to extend the west end of Governor through a finger canyon to meet up with the freeway was also in the community plan and was taken out in the early 1970s.
Another UCPG board member, Nancy Groves, supported the adaptive traffic lights that could move traffic more evenly. "Adaptive traffic lights' cycle length is different at each light. The computer works in real time." As part of removing these road projects on Regents and Genesee, the City has proposed adding Adaptive Traffic Lights in our community for the entire length of Genesee, Nobel, and La Jolla Village Drive. There would be far less environmental damage and far less cost than building road projects. It is a way to end red- light gridlock. The new lights talk to each other. La Jolla Parkway has these lights and at peak traffic times like 7:15 a.m., green lights have their longest duration. At $50,000 a light, these are much less expensive than building a bridge. It's like going to the cardiologist and being propoesd a quadruple by-pass when only a stent is needed.
Subcommittee member Isabelle Kay voiced her decision this way: "The environmentally preferred alternative is no bridge, no widening."
Andy Wiese, chair of the UCPG subcommittee, made a motion to accept the draft letter opposing the Regents Road bridge and widening of Genesee. Roger Cavanuagh seconded it. It passed with 12 in favor, no opposition, and five abstentions. Wiese is certain the findings of the EIR remain stable. "We are dealing with peak hours' traffic issues. Roads built show more people will drive on them. If you build another road, you draw traffic off other roads and freeways." He is concerned about the fire-response time argument with the bridge. The only way to improve the fire- response time is to build a fire station in South U.C. There is no good data about improvement time with the bridge.
UCSD pulmonary researcher. "Airborne particulates,and unburned fuel will be carried by the wind into the community on this bridge. His wife Eileen asked if we want to sacrifice quiet in the vague hope of a bridge solving our problems. A Scripps oceanographer reminisced about Mission Valley dairy farms from the past all concreted over today. "Canyons are treasures and we have open space to be proud of."
UCPG was not without its sense of humor. Somebody described this whole issue like Whack-a-Mole, the arcade game( Whac-a-mole) whose object is to hit the head of plastic mole with a mallet and watch others pop up or trying to stop something that persistently occurs. Let's see who is smiling and happy after the City Council vote on Dec. 5. For more information on either side of the issue, go to Friends of Rose Canyon at firstname.lastname@example.org and a pro bridge group: www.citizensfortheregentsroadbridge.org.