The California Transportation Commission has approved a deal that will give the county $20 million to pay for the San Diego Trolley’s East Line extension to La Mesa.
San Diego City Councilman Ed Struiksma said the plan, approved Thursday, means two other major highway projects will be postponed but it clears the way for the trolley’s eastern extension to at least Spring Street in La Mesa and possibly as far as the Grossmont Center shopping mall.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move with a quantum effort the East Line about two years ahead of schedule,” said Struiksma, who helped arrange the swap.
Under the plan approved, San Diego will give up $8 million that was to be used to widen Interstate 5 near Sorrento Valley. In addition, the county must postpone for a year the widening of Route 125, for which $8.4 million had been allocated. An additional $4 million set aside to build freeway edge drains was also forfeited.
San Diego must also submit a financial plan for the trolley extension to the state.
Tom Larwin, director of the Metropolitan Transit Development Board, said the state’s approval of the deal means the money is available and can be used for the trolley.
Assuming no problems arise, Larwin said the extension to La Mesa could be finished by 1988. Ultimately, plans call for the trolley to run to El Cajon.