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SANDAG Endorses Trolley Extension From Old Town To UTC

San Diego is one step closer to having a trolley line from downtown to UCSD and University Town Centre.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the region's planning authority, today chose a preferred route for the proposed $1.2 billion Mid-Coast extension of the San Diego Trolley from Old Town to University City.

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SANDAG Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project

SANDAG Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project

SANDAG has approved a route for a trolley ...

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 plan is to take thousands of cars off Interstate 5 and give people another way to get to UCSD and the Golden Triangle.

The 11-mile-long path would take the trolley north from the Old Town Transit Center along the east side of I-5, cross over to UC San Diego, 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.

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.

"With the vote today, we’ll be able to move forward with our application," she said. "We have been successful getting full funding grant agreements. We got one for the SDSU trolley extension. All indications are that this route will perform extremely well.”

The vote 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.

Funds for bus routes have suffered from serious budget cuts, but SANDAG hopes federal money will be forthcoming to add the 11 miles to the trolley’s Blue line from Old Town.

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

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