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SANDAG picks trolley route to UCSD

The San Diego Association of Governments on Friday endorsed a route for the proposed $1.2 billion Mid-Coast extension of the San Diego Trolley from Old Town to University City.

SANDAG’s board voted unanimously to back the so-called “Light Rail Transit Alternative 1" as the preferred route, according to David Hicks, a spokesman for the agency.

The 11-mile-long path would take the trolley north from the Old Town Transit Center along the east side of Interstate 5, cross over to UCSD, then cross the freeway again at Voight Drive before heading south on Genesee Avenue to University Town Centre.

Eight new stations would be created along the route.

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The Metropolitan Transit System, which operates the San Diego Trolley, anticipates the route will generate 20,000 daily riders.

According to Anne Steinberger, a project manager for the Mid-Coast project, officials will now begin work on a supplemental environmental review and design/build plans for the extension.

The vote also clears the way for SANDAG to seek federal funding for the project.

Of the $1.2 billion cost, half would come from TransNet, a local half-cent sales tax for transportation projects, and the remaining $600 million from federal grants, Steinberger said.

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If work begins on the Mid-Coast Trolley extension in 2013, as hoped, the project would be completed sometime in 2015, according to Steinberger.