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Balboa Park Plaza de Panama Project Goes Before Planning Commission Thursday

A proposal to remove vehicles from the center of Balboa Park, which has drawn intense criticism from preservationists, is scheduled to be considered tomorrow by the San Diego Planning Commission.

An aerial view of the proposed Plaza de Panama project slated to begin this y...
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Above: An aerial view of the proposed Plaza de Panama project slated to begin this year and be completed by the 2015 Centennial of Balboa Park.

The $45 million plan, backed financially by Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, envisions building a 405-foot-long bypass bridge to take traffic away from the Plaza de Panama and Plaza de California, along with construction of an underground 822-space parking garage near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

The basic idea of getting rid of cars from the center of the park to make it more pedestrian-friendly is almost universally accepted but, for opponents, the devil is in the details.

Leaders of the group Save Our Heritage Organisation say a bypass bridge would destroy the visual beauty of the west side of the park and disrupt the peaceful Alcazar Gardens. Others question plans to charge for parking in the new structure, which they worry could become a fiscal liability for the city.

Supporters of the plan say alternatives have been considered but fall short. They hope to have the changes to the park implemented in time for the 100-year anniversary of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

The City Council, which will have the ultimate say, is scheduled to take up the issue on July 9.

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Avatar for user 'SVB'

SVB | June 7, 2012 at 12:41 a.m. ― 4 years, 9 months ago

Everyone want cars removed but everybody wishes for it without the bypass bridge. It seems that most opponents of the Jacobs plan favor the Lewis plan which is far less developed and has nowhere near the momentum. In my view both plans are good and would be worlds better than what we have now, but I'm concerned that if the current plan fails, the momentum and political will behind the Lewis plan will not be enough to see it to fruition and we will be left with more decades of car choked plazas. This is completely unacceptable in my view. Because of this I am a supporter of the Plaza De Panama project. But why can't we have a hybrid of the two plans??? The Jacobs plan should adopt the West Perimeter Road from the Lewis Plan with the Quincy st bridge being repurposed as the new West Entrance to the Park. The road would lead directly through Jacobs underground parking garage. This way we could do away with both the Centenial Bridge and anything that resembles Centenial Road. The Cabrillo Bridge would be free to convert to pedestrian-only and Alcazar Gardens could also be fully restored. This is BY FAR the best option.

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