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City Heights Transit Project Lurches Forward

Above: City Heights resident Maria Cortez discusses her nearly three-decade wait for a bus route called Centerline at a 2011 press conference. Residents have fought for the long-delayed transit project since the 1980's, when it was promised to them in exchange for allowing CalTrans to extend Interstate-15 through their neighborhood.

Maria Cortez can often be found wearing a t-shirt that reads, "I'd rather be riding Centerline." The 40-year City Heights resident has become the spokeswoman for a long-awaited transit line that the SANDAG Board of Directors pushed forward today.

Aired 3/25/13 on KPBS News.

City Heights residents could see movement on the Centerline bus rapid transit project in fiscal year 2014.

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

The board approved its preliminary 2014 budget with $11 million to finish designing Centerline, a bus rapid transit route along Interstate-15.

"I feel that we made great strides today," Cortez said. "It's been a long time coming."

The community has waited more than two decades to see movement on on the project.

Cortez has advocated for Centerline since 1985, when CalTrans entered into an agreement with City Heights residents to build the speedy bus route to and from job centers in exchange for razing homes to make room for Interstate-15.

The freeway now runs straight down the middle of City Heights. Foot bridges and a park help to keep both halves of the community connected, as do transit plazas built years ago to accommodate the delayed bus line.

The project's missing pieces include elevators that would take passengers from those transit plazas down to special bus stops built into the freeway median.

SANDAG has already allotted $21 million for the project, which is expected to cost $45 million to complete.

The SANDAG budget goes up for final approval in May.

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