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Thursday, Dec 7, 2023

New Light Rail Line Lightens Traffic Load

On the books for more than 25 years, the Mission Valley East light rail transit extension is finally moving.

The rail line, which will open as part of the new Green Line, will run between the Old Town Transit Center and the Santee Town Center station and was estimated to generate 11,000 new average riders daily after opening to the public July 10.

Yet Teresa Hurd, manager of Mary’s Secret Garden, a gift shop at Grossmont Center in La Mesa, said the impact to her business remains to be seen.

“I think it could be great,” she said. “We are hoping it does (bring business).”

The 5.8-mile segment will connect the Blue Line in Mission Valley to the Orange Line in La Mesa, closing the critical gap between the two lines, providing an important connection in the region’s public transit system.

The line will allow people to easily reach Grossmont Center, which is located next to the existing Grossmont Center station, and hopefully increase the number of shoppers at the mall.

“I think it will be a good thing,” Hurd said.

The $506 million project, which took nearly seven years to plan and construct, includes four new stations and is estimated to attract more than 2.5 million new annual transit riders to the region as a result of the extension.

“The new Mission Valley East trolley is the crown jewel in San Diego’s public transit system,” said Gary Gallegos, the executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments, the region’s planning agency. “Sandag’s vision is to bring a more robust and fast public transit network to where our residents live, work, shop and go to school , especially during rush hours. This trolley extension is part of that vision.”

The new stations, which are in Grantville and at San Diego State University, Alvarado Medical Center and 70th Street, will feature artistic themes that reflect the history and character of the station areas.

Easing The 8

The project, which parallels the Interstate 8 corridor, one of the most heavily congested corridors in the region, is touted as a highly cost-effective way to expand travel capacity in the corridor.

The area surrounding the corridor is projected to grow 10 percent by 2015 to nearly 300,000 residents and 150,000 jobs.

The San Diego State University station has been one of the most anticipated projects, as it is 75 feet underground in a 4,000-foot tunnel, designed to be integrated into a future community redevelopment project on the south side of the San Diego State campus.

The San Diego State station, which is projected to carry more than 4,300 students, faculty and staff every day, will provide access to the campus as well as events held at Cox Arena, the Aztec Center and the Open Air Theatre on campus.

“We feel it’s certainly a benefit,” said Terry Saverson, the president and chief executive officer of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, which serves the communities of La Mesa and El Cajon. “Hopefully it will lessen the traffic congestion , that’s probably the greatest asset.”

The project was funded by the local half-cent transportation tax, TransNet, as well as local and state funds.

Located on Alvarado Road near the new 70th Street Station, D.Z. Akin’s deli has been in business for more than 25 years, but co-owner Zvika Akin said he doesn’t think the trolley will bring more customers.

“We’re not sure about (the trolley),” said Akin.

“We don’t know what to expect, so we’re just going to take a wait-and-see attitude and see what happens.”

“The only thing that I personally feel is going to help is employees getting to work,” he said.

Freelance writer Tim Hainley contributed to this story.


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