Construction could begin by summer on Mid-City Rapid Bus project
After years of study and discussion, construction on the Mid-City Rapid Bus project could begin this summer along El Cajon and Park boulevards. However, as the planning phase draws to a close, a number of Uptown community organizers continue to express concerns about the impact the endeavor will have on some of the city’s neighborhoods.
Beginning in 2008, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) have been moving to implement the Mid-City Rapid Bus, a 10-mile high-speed limited-stop route designed to transport passengers to and from San Diego State University and downtown via El Cajon and Park boulevards.
SANDAG officials advertised the Mid-City Rapid Bus project, which is projected to cost approximately $44 million, as an opportunity to increase efficiency for passengers using the bus system for long-distance commutes within the city. When it is completed, the new route is expected to operate every 10 minutes during peak times and every 15 minutes during non-peak periods.
Seventeen stations will be located at various points along the route, and will feature amenities such as seating, vending machines, bike racks and real-time information signs linked to a GPS tracking system. A Transit Lane on Park Boulevard between University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard will also be constructed.
SANDAG spokesperson Bob Hawkins said construction would take a little more than a year to complete and would commence by this summer.
District Three Councilmember Todd Gloria, whose current district partially encompasses the neighborhoods along the proposed route, including North Park, Normal Heights and Kensington, supports the proposed bus route.
Leo Wilson, chair of the Uptown Planners, said he has reservations about SANDAG’s proposal.
“It’s like putting a major bus freeway through the middle of our community,” Wilson said of the plans. “People using [the Mid-City Rapid Bus] won’t be coming through our communities to enjoy them.”
Wilson said the freeway system throughout the city could more adequately address the issue of transporting passengers in a quick, convenient manner.
“No group [in Uptown] supports this, and that’s a serious problem,” Wilson said. “They’re really shortchanging us.”
In May 2011, Gloria stated he worked with SANDAG officials and successfully made modifications to the project based on community concerns, including an addition of 16 parking spaces along Park Boulevard. Initial plans called for a loss of up to 33 spaces to accommodate the project.
Another modification involved moving two bus stations on El Cajon Boulevard in order to preserve the number of parking spaces.
The alterations were not been enough for some organizations, including the Hillcrest Town Council, who continue to speak out against the project.
Luke Terpstra, chair of the Hillcrest Town Council, said the organization remains in opposition of the entire project. After Gloria’s changes were implemented, the Hillcrest Town Council voted against the project.
“This is something that will likely increase gridlock,” Terpstra said. “It’s going to result in more congestion in the area, and we have concerns about pedestrian safety since this is such a pedestrian-friendly area.”
Nikki Berdy, president of the North Park Community Association, said her organization has not taken a formal stance on the bus proposal.
“This has not been an issue that’s come up,” Berdy said, “but we’d certainly be open to having someone come and make a presentation at one of our meetings.”