City Heights Transit Project Lurches Forward
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.
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.