The grant for the new station, which would be located just east of Interstate 5 and south of Balboa Avenue, seeks to increase bicycle, pedestrian and transit access to the station.
Residents of Pacific Beach and Clairemont are being engaged to produce the plan and an implementation program that would address transportation demand, economic market analysis, urban design concepts and multimodal improvement projects.
The grant award was hailed by Pacific Beach Planning Group chair Brian Curry as a major step forward for local planning.
“This transportation-oriented district (TOD) is a critical piece of our long-term sustainable design plan for Pacific Beach,” said Curry. “The combination of this $787,000 grant and the city’s contribution totals around $900,000 for this planning process.”
Curry said local planners are “extremely happy to see that we will be able to incorporate the new SPA into the PB Community Plan that emphasizes sustainable elements for public transportation, bicycles and pedestrians, while also revisiting vehicular traffic patterns and efficiencies in and out of Pacific Beach.”
The grant for the Balboa Transit Station improvements comes from the California Strategic Growth Council, which dispenses funding statewide for green and other environmentally sustainable projects.
The Balboa Avenue Transit Station is one of nine being planned for construction as part of Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project. The project will extend trolley service from Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego to University City, with stops along the way at Old Town and two at the UC San Diego campus, ending at Westfield UTC.
In 2013, several members of the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) visited Pacific and Mission beaches and Mission Bay Park to collaborate with local planners on developing some concepts for making their communities more green and environmentally sustainable through creation of an eco-district.
Several major areas are being focused on in eco-district formation, including community identity, urban design and sustainable infrastructure, economy and land use and transportation.
John Haggerty, project director for the San Diego Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project, said the designated Balboa Avenue trolley will be on a triangular, undeveloped city-owned parcel near the existing coaster track.
“Because of the property’s size, it could not be developed as a building,” said Haggerty, noting grant funding will be used to construct a trolley/bus platform and create a park-and-ride area on the designated site.
“There will be two trolley platforms in both directions about 15 feet wide and 360 feet long,” said Haggerty. “There will also be a bus facility with a series of bus bays right up against the station platform, as well as bike lockers.”
Haggerty said an environmental document for the Balboa Avenue Transit Station is out for review, with approval of an environmental document expected this fall. Construction is expected to follow on the Mid-Coast project in 2016, with completion of the 11.2-mile Mid-Coast trolley extension due in spring 2019.
Architect Danielle Buttacavoli, a member of beautifulPB who’s been working with other stakeholders in laying the groundwork for the creation of a Pacific Beach eco-district, referred to the new Balboa Avenue trolley stop as “an opportunity to potentially alleviate traffic in PB, allowing for people outside the community to take the trolley to the station, then take some type of public transportation, like a bus or shuttle, to the beach or the business district.”
She said the idea of introducing transit to the beach area is to increase the likelihood of “people using their cars less and public transportation more, while reducing vehicle congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”
Buttacavoli said the new transit stop is expected to be a transportation hub that would improve pedestrian and bicycling access. She said it also affords the opportunity to create a “public transportation loop,” with people using a variety of transportation modes other than cars to get around.
A public forum on the Balboa Avenue TOD, originally set for July 12, has been tentatively rescheduled for Aug. 2 at a time and place yet to be determined.