With the piercing sounds of sawing, jackhammering, rolling construction vehicles and back-up beepers in the background (and with the smell of dust in the air), the City launched its Shift San Diego program at a press conference July 23 across from Westfield UTC mall, which is in the midst of a major expansion.
The Shift program would provide a “one-stop shop” online platform for real-time updates on construction projects in the Golden Triangle (University City/UC San Diego/La Jolla), citing impacts on traffic and alternative ways for commuters to get to and from work. The platform stems from a partnership between the City of San Diego, SANDAG, UC San Diego and iCommute.
There are nearly 50 major public and private construction projects that will be underway in the Golden Triangle area in the next five years. These include: the Mid-Coast Trolley expansion project (which will extend Blue Line Trolley service from Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego to the University City community); adjunct projects that support the Trolley expansion; the Westfield UTC mall enlargement and transit center; Pure Water San Diego building a water reuse facility; biotech companies moving into the area; and private housing development.
“The Golden Triangle is one of many communities in the midst of an exciting period of growth,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “The trolley line is going to connect UC San Diego to our urban core and all the way down to the border — and private development is going to provide new housing that our City desperately needs. The good news is that all of these projects are going to benefit San Diegans for generations to come. … But one of the challenges is when many of them happen at the same time (chuckles). Shift is going to be San Diego’s go-to transportation solution during this time of transition.”
County Supervisor and SANDAG chair Ron Roberts, who joked that he was late for the press conference due to construction-related traffic added, “Today we are here for the launch of a resource for those who live, work and recreate here in the Golden Triangle area. The Shift program will provide a centralized source of information on construction and transportation projects of all sorts that are going to affect the mobility of residents and commuters, and employees.
“SANDAG was doing outreach in this community and we heard loud and clear that the people wanted a program to coordinate information on where the impacts were going to be, so they’d have an idea of where the delays might be and how to avoid them.”
The website contains a construction map; up-to-date notices of current construction; transportation solutions for commuters and UC San Diego students (such as carpooling and public transportation); opportunities to sign up for text and e-mail alerts; and a “trip planner” where travelers can input their start and end point to see alternative ways to get to their destination.
Gary Gallegos, SANDAG executive director, said, “This is the largest employment area in the County. A lot of people think it’s downtown, and downtown is great, but it is the second largest.” He said almost 57,000 people commute to and from, or within, the Golden Triangle each day.
The breakdown is: 3,200 workers live and work in the project area; 10,600 workers live in the project area but work elsewhere; 43,100 workers work in the project area but live elsewhere.
He also called the Shift platform a “game-changer for the San Diego workforce” because it makes different types of transportation available to commuters so they can come from all over the county.
City Council member Barbara Bry, whose district includes the Golden Triangle, said the community “has an exciting future ahead of it” and she is especially excited about the Mid-Coast Trolley expansion because it would provide access to the bustling employment hub.
“As we prepare for these changes, it is our responsibility to make sure the residents, my constituents, are aware of the work going on around them and minimize its impact. Through the features in the Shift platform, we can tell people what the projects around them, whose project it is, when it will be done and what it will be,” she said.
Although the City was already working on the Shift platform when Bry came into office earlier this year, she said she thinks “it’s overdue” and is willing to help get the platform off the ground as best as possible.
Reporter’s Note: Is your commute impacted by Golden Triangle construction? Have you checked out the Shift Platform? We want to hear from you and your experience. Contact reporter Ashley Mackin-Solomon at (858) 875-5950 or email@example.com