Plan To Connect Transit To San Diego International Airport Proceeding
Speaker 1: 00:00 SANDAG says it's the beginning of the point of no return. Last week, the San Diego association of governments published a notice of preparation or N O P for a project that's been dubbed San Diego's grand central station. That notice is the first step in an environmental review for a transit hub, linking the regions rail and bus lines with a people mover to the San Diego international airport. Although the concept is still at its very early stages with many questions about location and access, still unanswered. The NLP puts the public and state agencies on notice that San Diego officials are serious about moving forward with this project. Joining me is Jennifer van Grove, who covers growth and development for the San Diego union Tribune. Jennifer, welcome. Thanks for having me. What locations are being considered for this hub Speaker 2: 00:55 Right now? The primary location is the Navy's old town campus or the NAB war site. It's the site, you know, when you're driving down interstate five, it's a bunch of old airport hangers. It's 70 acres. And right now the Navy is using that for cybersecurity. They have five, 6,000 workers onsite there, but those, those hangers weren't designed for the type of work that's being done. Um, and so SANDAG would like to repurpose that site that's site. Number one, um, the backup site is what's being called the intermodal transit center and it is a little bit closer to the airport. It's opposite the current, uh, rental car center. So kind of in, in that area along Pacific highway, those are the two primary locations. A third alternative will, um, study the possibility of extending the trolley to the airport. So less of a transit hub and more of just a trolley extension, but SANDAG preference is for this all encompassing regional transportation center that brings together all modes of transit as the connection to the airport. And it does so from the Navy's old town campus. Speaker 1: 02:10 Okay. So besides the location of the hub, what other questions about the logistics of a transit hub? Like this are still unanswered. Speaker 2: 02:18 Oh my goodness. There's so many questions left unanswered. You know, th the agency still hasn't determined how the connection to the airport is going to happen. You know, their preference seems to be a people mover. Is it going to be, you know, people move that's underground. Is it going to be a people mover that's above ground that needs to be determined. Then there's a notion of, you know, what the transit hub looks like, how it's going to function in the case of the nav war site, SANDAG is also proposing, you know, a fairly large development of mixed uses, including residential office and retail. So there's a lot that needs to be determined. And that's kind of where the environmental review process kicks in because SANDAG expects to study pretty much all of those options as it decides, which is the best one moving forward. Well, no matter what, Speaker 1: 03:19 Which location is eventually chosen, just step back. And what is the overall goal? How are supporters hoping a transit hub will change the way we get to and from San Diego international, Speaker 2: 03:32 If you look at the data or sandbags data, I guess, you know, something to the effect of, you know, 99% of people take personal transportation to the airport. Um, and so the, you know, big picture idea, at least with the direct connection is to, you know, change how people move about the city. And it's particularly in that last sort of mile or two connection from the intermodal transit center or the grand central to the airport, but big picture, you know, his son Xstrata who runs SANDAG. He wants people taking public transit throughout the city and the County. And so in creating the hub, the idea would be to get everything moving in the same direction and, and make it possible for people in North County, South County to efficiently get to this transit hub so that they can go to their next destination, whether that's the airport or downtown or somewhere else. But right now, you know, if you've listened to him talk or have listened to him talk, he talks about inefficiencies and how people move about San Diego. So the big picture is, you know, get people from North County, you know, down to the region, South County, all in this one hub where they can then, you know, disperse from there and, and really make public transit function in a way that I don't think, you know, it has yet to date in San Diego. Speaker 1: 04:57 Okay. So this would be a huge project. Wouldn't there be trolley lines, rail lines, all sorts of, uh, roadways that would have to be linked in some way to a new hub site. Speaker 2: 05:09 Yeah. That's the thinking. And so, you know, right now there's the old town transit center. If the, if SANDAG and the Navy pursue the old Navy old town campus, they would have to shift all that infrastructure over, which is very expensive and very complicated. But yes, the idea is to combine all rail bus, everything in one place to make it very simple for San Diego. Speaker 1: 05:36 When you say it would be very expensive, how expensive are we talking? Speaker 2: 05:40 So they've done studies and depending on the options that they choose, it's 4 billion, 4.6, 4.7 billion. And that's just the tramp transportation. So, you know, any sort of, um, mixed use development on top of that, those costs aren't included. So what does publishing notice of preparation Speaker 1: 05:58 On this project? What does that put into motion? Speaker 2: 06:02 It puts the whole project into motion. So one could make the argument that before last week, SANDAG was merely talking about this. You know, there's been a lot of talk about a transit, a direct connection to the airport for years. So this formalizes their intent to make good on the talk because now they have to actually pony up a lot more money to do the analysis and the study. So Hassan had said, um, that SANDAG has spent $10 million to date on studies and reviews of the options and, you know, committee work, et cetera. Well, there's another $60 million that needs to be spent before they even get to a final environmental impact report. So, you know, that's a big leap and they have of that 70 million total that they need to get to that point. They have 50 already approved by the board, but there's still another 20 million outstanding. So by filing the Noop, they're saying, you know, we are going to spend this money to make sure that we can study all of our options, get this environmental impact report released and move forward. Speaker 1: 07:12 And can the public have any kind of input on, in this notice of preparation? Speaker 2: 07:17 Yes. And so, you know, SANDAG is certainly very interested in, in public opinion. There's, um, what's called a public scoping meeting and it's just, you know, formal sort of term for this process under the California environmental quality act. And so anyone can attend this meeting there's information about it on non sandbags websites and provide, uh, input on what they think sandbags should study in the environmental impact report. Um, so that's kind of the first step where the public can weigh in. I think there's, there's an opportunity, um, for people to submit a form online, if they'd prefer to do so instead. And then as the process moves forward, there's always going to be opportunity for public comment. Um, my personal opinion though, is, you know, getting feedback in early right now is, is probably weightier than responding to a draft of a document that's already been published. So these are, you know, these are kind of important days for people who want to have a voice in the matter Speaker 1: 08:15 In speaking with Jennifer van Grove, who covers growth and development for the San Diego union Tribune. Jennifer, thank Speaker 2: 08:21 You. Thank you. Marine SANDAG Speaker 1: 08:23 Is seeking public input for the central mobility hub at a public meeting that will be held on Tuesday, May 11th from six to 7:30 PM. More information and a link is on our website. Speaker 3: 08:41 [inaudible].