Lightner joins in call to put high-speed rail in I-15 corridor


The Interstate 15 corridor between Mira Mesa and Qualcomm Stadium would be the preferred route for the southernmost leg of California’s proposed $40 billion high-speed train network, not a path that would take it through University City, a coalition of San Diego-area elected officials said Tuesday.

“A straight line is the most efficient way to get between two points,” San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said. “The meandering path that is suggested at present does not achieve that.’'

A representative of the California High Speed Rail Authority could not immediately be reached for comment.

As proposed now, the high-speed trains would depart Los Angeles’ Union Station, travel east toward to Ontario and Riverside, then follow Interstate 15 to Escondido before cutting in toward the coast through Rose Canyon, under University City and then run parallel to Interstate 5 to San Diego International Airport and the U.S.-Mexico border.

Instead of following Interstate 5, the coalition called for more study of keeping the trains on Interstate 15, past Mira Mesa to Qualcomm Stadium. The trains would then follow Interstate 805 to Tijuana’s Rodriguez International Airport.

The Interstate 15 to Qualcomm Stadium route was studied by the California High Speed Rail Authority, but was largely dismissed because it doesn’t end up in downtown San Diego or link up with Lindbergh Field.

San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye said environmental and community concerns over the the proposed route through University City have not been adequately addressed.

“The Rail Authority map showing the Carroll Canyon and Miramar Road routes are imprecise,” she said. “They offer little clue to their potential impact to Rose Canyon and other sensitive areas.’'

Lightner and Frye were joined by San Diego City Council President Ben Hueso, Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, and Chula Vista Councilman Steve Castaneda at a news conference outside City Hall to encourage the public to get involved in determining the proposed routes the high-speed train network will take through the region.

The High Speed Rail Authority, which was created to head the project, is holding hearings throughout the state on proposed routes in advance of the preparation of an environmental impact review.

“During this scoping period, the city of San Diego and all of us should make our recommendations on which route works best for our city and not leave such important matters to others,’’ Kehoe said.

The first leg of California’s high-speed rail network will be funded with $9.95 billion in bond funds approved by voters and first link San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Ultimately, the state envisions a series of 220-mile-per-hour trains that link San Francisco and Sacramento to Southern California, via Los Angeles, northern Orange County, Riverside and San Diego.

To supplement the project’s cost, the state has also applied for billions in federal funds set aside for high-speed rail projects.