Old Town-UCSD trolley routes discussed, endorsed

The Metropolitan Transit System board last week endorsed a preferred-route, 11-mile trolley extension linking Old Town with UCSD and culminating at University Town Centre (UTC).

Their endorsement came the same week an informational meeting was held at UCSD to get community input on the project.

The path preferred by the transit board would take the trolley from the Old Town Transit Center along the east side of Interstate 5 to UCSD, then east along Voight Dive and Genesee Avenue to UTC.

Stations would be built at Tecolote Road, Claremont Drive, Balboa Avenue, Nobel Drive, the west and east sides of UCSD, Executive Drive and UTC Transit Center, according to SANDAG, the region’s public transportation agency.

Meanwhile, SANDAG has been hosting a series of open house public workshops on the three proposed routes throughout the affected area, including one May 11 at UCSD.

“We’re bringing all the information out so they can see the scope of the project,” said Anne Steinberger, SANDAG marketing manager.

At the May 11 UCSD trolley workshop Leslie Blanda, SANDAG project development program manager, talked to UCSD student Javier Medina.

“How close it is to the heart of campus?” he asked.

“Within about a block of Price Center,” she replied.

“Will the trolley use electrical?” was his next question.

“Yes it would,” she responded.

The public review period ends June 1. Staff will review comments before turning the project over to another board vote, likely in July.

“At that point the (SANDAG) board can choose to take one or more of the (trolley) alignments into the environmental review process,” said Milt Phegley, UCSD campus community planner. “Then hopefully they could jump ahead of the pack (to apply) for federal funding.”

Phegley said UCSD will not be involved with trolley construction but will have a say after that in how the new trolley stations “integrate into the campus.”

Mark Thomsen, senior transportation Planner for Metropolitan Transit System, said rates for the UCSD/UTC trolley extension would be similar to what they are now — a bargain. “It only costs $2.50 to go from one end of the trolley to the other, and I don’t see the cost going up much though the fares haven’t actually been set yet,” he said. “Based on economic conditions that could change, but it would remain likely within the same (fee) structure.”

If all goes well, Steinberger said the UCSD/UTC trolley extension from Old Town could be up and running by 2016.