Efforts to bridge the gap between north and south University City failed during Wednesday's Land Use and Housing Committee meeting in San Diego City Council Chambers. The proposed Regents Road Bridge over Rose Canyon has been debated in the community and promoted at City Hall since the 1960s. In 2006, the council approved the project, but a lawsuit forced the City to attain an environmental-impact report before proceeding. The proposal to build the bridge is once again before councilmembers.
At Wednesday's committee meeting, councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Kevin Faulconer, Tony Young, and chair Todd Gloria were asked to award Helix Environmental Planning Incorporated $675,423 for the preparation of an environmental-impact report in addition to $1,832,052 to Product Design Corporation for preliminary architectural, lighting, and aesthetic designs.
Patti Boekamp, the director of Engineering and Capital Projects Division, gave councilmembers some background on the project. After the presentation, District 1 councilmember Sherri Lightner, whose district the project falls in, asked Boekamp for an estimate for the total cost of the project.
"I don't have that figure because it has not been designed," responded Boekamp.
"What was the last estimate?" asked Lightner.
"The last estimate was about $37 million dollars. But we're actually cautioned not to talk too much about construction because, you know, you haven't made a decision to build or not build."
Nearly two hours of public comment followed the presentation. Dozens of residents spoke in favor and in opposition to the project. Those in favor said the proposal is outdated, unneeded, and environmentally irresponsible, while proponents say the bridge would reduce emergency response time and reduce traffic in the community.
After public comment, Lightner debunked the project and gave updated dollar figures for the Financial Benefit Assessment (FBA) funds that were budgeted for the project.
"I am confident that there is no way that the FBA will have $37 million to build the bridge. Authorizing this study would be like throwing money away. Currently the FBA only has $3.5 million dollars available. There may never be enough money to fund it."