Bill Funding Highway 52 Extension Sent to Reagan

Times Staff Writer

Construction on an extension of California Highway 52 east of Interstate 805 could begin later this year if President Reagan signs a measure submitted this week by Congress, Rep. Bill Lowery (R-San Diego) said Friday.

The legislation--the Interstate Cost Estimate--would, among other things, provide $24.4 million for completion of a short part of the unfinished portion of decade-old Highway 52. The measure was approved by the House Feb. 28 and by the Senate Tuesday.

The new stretch of highway would lead from I-805 to Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa.

"If the President doesn't sign, it (his veto) will be overridden," Lowery predicted at an unusual press conference held in the grassy median strip of Highway 52, a few hundred yards east of I-805.

Contracts for the construction should be let early this summer, said William Dodson, district director for the California Department of Transportation, who also was at the press conference.

The remaining uncompleted section of Highway 52--which would stretch from Convoy Street east to Santee--remains unfunded, Lowery said.

The completion of Highway 52 was delayed for years by pressure exerted by former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., who expressed concern over its environmental impact, Lowery said.

When the highway is completed all the way to Santee it should relieve traffic pressure on Interstate 8 and, in turn, that highway's detrimental "impacts upon air quality," Lowery said. The new road will also "reduce (drivers') frustration level and . . . bumper-to-bumper traffic," he said.

Residents of Tierrasanta, Santee, Clairemont and adjacent areas have exerted "a lot of pressure for years" to finish Highway 52, Lowery said.

In a related matter, Assemblyman Bill Bradley (R-Escondido) said he has introduced a bill to authorize a ballot proposition under which San Diego County voters could vote on whether to increase sales taxes, generating $67.5 million annually, to fund road repairs and construction.

"I think it would pass because people today are generally concerned about the lack of road maintenance, road safety," Bradley said.

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