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Backers of Mayor Jerry Sanders and Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs’ vision for the removal of cars from the Plaza de Panama at Balboa Park have released a new video at plazadepanama.org promoting their idea.

Although highly controversial and scorned by local preservation groups such as the Save Our Heritage Organisation, which has filed a lawsuit against the city for endorsing the Sanders/Jacobs vision absent environmental review, the Plaza de Panama Committee today began its fundraising push, with the video being a prime component.

The group hopes to raise $25 million and tap another $15 million in city bonds to complete what it calls the Centennial Bridge, an arcing structure that would divert traffic from the central plaza after it crosses the historic Cabrillo Bridge from the west. Instead of congested public lots, vehicles would be directed into a paid access garage, the top level of which would be built out as a two acre park.

There’s no argument against the idea of removing traffic from the center of the plaza, but community groups would prefer to see it done in another fashion, such as closing off the Cabrillo Bridge to personal vehicle traffic. Those pushing for the new bridge say this idea is a no-go, as it would have adverse effects on communities to the west of the park. Sanders described the new bridge as “an integral part of the plan.”

An environmental report should be available for public review and comment in January, and will include consideration of proposed alternatives. The city council could take the issue up by July, with construction on the new bridge to begin as early as October, though the firm managing the project says work could begin as late as April 2013 and still result in the bridge being completed by fall of 2014, in advance of the park’s centennial celebration.

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dwbat Nov. 28, 2011 @ 3:45 p.m.

Perhaps, as depicted in the 1977 war movie, Centennial is also "A Bridge Too Far."


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