San Diego Fringe: Scenes From Mars One: Now With 68% Less Gravity! and Los Dorados (The Golden Ones)
David Dixon 10:30 a.m., July 28
On Friday, members of San Diego Association of Governments' (SANDAG) Transportation Committee received an update on the Mid-City Rapid Bus project, a $44 million dollar project to implement rapid bus service from San Diego State University along El Cajon Boulevard to Downtown. The new bus line will have fewer stops, new bus stations, synchronized traffic signals along El Cajon Boulevard, and a dedicated bus lane on Park Avenue in University Heights.
Committee members were informed that the agency was awaiting final approval from the City and expects to issue bids for construction sometime in April.
Also mentioned in staff's status report were changes made to the project in response to concerns from the community, which included relocating two bus stations on El Cajon Boulevard, and reducing the width of the sidewalk on Park Boulevard for additional parking.
Councilmember Todd Gloria, an outspoken supporter of mass transit, commended staff for their hard work. "[The Mid-City Rapid Bus] is a big step for Mid-City and I appreciate that staff worked so hard to accommodate the community's concerns."
But the so-called accommodations don't far enough for many residents living on Park Boulevard. They say the dedicated bus lane and inadequate parking along Park Boulevard will impact local businesses. And they worry about traffic on already busy roads after Polk Avenue is closed. Because of these concerns, the Hillcrest Town Council, North Park Planning Group, and Uptown Planners opposed the project.
"The project is wasteful and foolish. The businesses and Hillcrest residents will suffer just because SANDAG rushed to spend Transnet Funds before they disappeared," says Hillcrest resident Richard Rachel, an outspoken critic of the project. "There was no public input and when the public did begin to voice concerns, neither SANDAG or councilmember Gloria were listening."
In a previous statement, Councilmember Gloria's office acknowledged the community's concerns but said the project will take the community one step closer to other mass-transit projects such as introducing a streetcar.
"Councilmember Gloria continues to advocate for projects like streetcars to be funded sooner than highway projects," said Gloria's spokesperson in a May 2011 statement. "The Mid-City Rapid Bus project will preserve this precious right-of-way to ensure the desired streetcar project can be realized."
Rachel disagrees. "Not only will this project hurt local businesses and endanger the senior citizens living in senior housing on Park Boulevard, it will be a barrier, a wall, cutting Hillcrest off from North Park."