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Despite modifications, Uptown organizations have continued concerns about bus project

Posted: March 16th, 2012 | Kensington, Normal Heights, North Park | 7 Comments

Construction could begin by summer on Mid-City Rapid Bus project

By Dave Fidlin | SDUN Reporter

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.”

7 Comments

  1. This is not Rapid Bus Transit. It is simply a fancy, limited-stop bus. It will still have to travel at the posted speed limits of our city streets, and because it has no dedicated lanes, it will have to compete with the rest of us in congestion and traffic. It’s a lot of nothing for $44 million.

    The real problem is what it does to degrade Park Blvd. Park Blvd – a retail and residential street – will be reconfigured into a 6 lane road, without bike lanes or sidewalk improvements. This makes it more dangerous to pedestrians, and the many school children and elderly that use Park Blvd daily. Neither SANDAG or The City is willing to make Capital improvements to Park Blvd to calm traffic, add bike lanes, enhance its beauty, and improve the pedestrian experience and safety. It is a shame that Councilmember Gloria has thrown this part of Hillcrest and University Heights “under the bus” leaving it ignored and blighted. It is a scar on his record and on Uptown.

  2. STOP THIS INSANITY NOW!!!!!!!!!

  3. LOOK AT MY FACEBOOK PAGE TODAY FOR 10 reasons why this high speed bus line down the center of our beloved park blvd is pure lunacy…mr gloria listen to the community councils and STOP THOIS CRIMINAL ACT..STEVE GREENWALD FOR MAYOR.. MORE NOISE /AIR POLLUTION ..LESS PARKING..LESS GREEN SPACE ..HARDER TO CROSS FOR PEDESTRIANS ..NO COMMERCIAL ADVANTAGE AND LOSS OF PROPERTY VALUES AND TAX BASE FOR THE CITY..LESS HABITABLE BY RESIDENTS AND DIVIDES EAST FROM WEST BLOCKS OFF POLK AVE..MR GLORIA STOP THIS INSANITY

  4. LOOK AT MY FACEBOOK PAGE TODAY FOR 10 reasons why this high speed bus line down the center of our beloved park blvd is pure lunacy…mr gloria listen to the community councils and STOP THOIS CRIMINAL ACT..STEVE GREENWALD FOR MAYOR.. MORE NOISE /AIR POLLUTION ..LESS PARKING..LESS GREEN SPACE ..HARDER TO CROSS FOR PEDESTRIANS ..NO COMMERCIAL ADVANTAGE AND LOSS OF PROPERTY VALUES AND TAX BASE FOR THE CITY..LESS HABITABLE BY RESIDENTS AND DIVIDES EAST FROM WEST BLOCKS OFF POLK AVE..MR GLORIA STOP THIS INSANITYWE WANT PARK BLVD ADDRESSES TO BE a CLASSY address much like park blvd in in NEW YORK not a bus freeway route

  5. Elyse Lowe says:

    Its not a perfect project by any means, but it will offer more transit choices for those who need access to a major employment center, and to education. Don’t buy the argument that this faster bus line will ruin the community. It makes sense to put a bus line through dense urban communities where people want to live where they can drive less. This line shortens the bus commute time to downtown, and gives people additional options. The original design was for this line would have had its own dedicated lane in order to allow the transit to flow more smoothly, but it was removed at the request of the community. Leo Wilson’s answer to mobility issues is to transport more people on to the freeway? We need options, not more of the same. In the long run, this transit line will serve the growth and density that the City plans to accommodate for this generation, and the next generation to come.

  6. Elyse Lowe – few of us disapprove of having good transit. However, whenever SANDAG does something in the name of transit, they seem to leave an ugly scar on the community. If SANDAG were leave the community as good or even better (more livable and beautiful) as before the transit was built, communities would be begging for SANDAG projects. Unfortunately, they haven’t learned that lesson and they get protests and distain instead.

    SANDAG was presented with designs for Park Blvd that would have kept the BRT and made improvements to the beauty and livability of the street. They refused. It happens again and again… Little Italy bus depot, La Mesa Light Rail, etc, etc, etc. We don’t want architects and developers to build bad, ugly buildings that degrade our communities. Why should transit projects be any different?

    SANDAGs myopic focus on transportation and not on better communities is its problem – not the people of San Diego.

  7. Gregg Neuman says:

    I agree with Elyse on this one. With the increasing number of residents calling San Diego home, we need as many options as possible to reduce the stress and commute times of our workforce.

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