Trolley extension plans still driving forward in new year
by Mariko Lamb
Jan 03, 2013 | 3351 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Westfield UTC will serve as the final destination on the Blue Line once the mid-coast trolley-line extension is complete.                                                                 Rendering courtesy of SANDAG
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Plans to extend trolley service from downtown San Diego to University City — lines which currently go no further north than the Old Town Trolley Station — are moving forward in the new year.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) continues work on environmental documents and necessary technical studies for the $1.7 billion Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project, a proposed 11-mile extension of the Blue Line trolley from the Old Town Transit Center to University City.

City officials boast a number of economic, environmental and commuter benefits for the extension, such as linking San Diego universities, creating a one-ride route from the international border to University City, and increasing access to jobs along the corridor, which includes several stops just east of Mission Bay.

“The mid-coast trolley line creates a real opportunity to give San Diegans greater access to the beaches and bays,” said District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer. “The new trolley line will better connect the beach areas to the rest of the region and bring more San Diegans to the beach communities to visit local businesses, shops and restaurants.”

Project expenses — which jumped $460 million over the past two years due to mounting costs for additional trolley cars, construction, infrastructure and parking — will be funded from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts program as well as local TransNet funds. To date, a total of $39.2 million has been invested in the project for planning, preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisition.

“We must protect our tax dollars,” said Faulconer. “I’ll be monitoring the project and urging the decision makers at SANDAG to make sure every dollar spent is in the best interest of San Diegans.”

The new extension largely traces Interstate 5 north from the Old Town Transit Center to UCSD before veering east to its final destination at Westfield UTC. Eight new stations are proposed in the plan including stops at Tecolote Road, Clairemont Drive, Balboa Ave-nue, Nobel Drive, UCSD West, UCSD East, Executive Drive and Westfield UTC. SANDAG is also studying the feasibility of an additional station at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. Details about the costs and benefits of the proposed station will be included in the environmental documents and technical studies prepared by SANDAG and FTA, which will be available for public review in the near future.

Following a 60-day public review period, the trolley extension is expected to receive its final environmental approvals late this year. Construction on the line is expected to begin in 2015, and the line is slated to open to the public in 2018.

For more information and updates about the Mid-Coast trolley line, visit www.sandag.org/midcoast.
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