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Lawmaker Told Jobs, Not Freeway, Needed in Route 252 Corridor

Times Staff Writer

Although plans to build a highway through Southeast San Diego in the area dubbed the 252 Corridor have been all but scrapped, residents of the community still are concerned about the nebulous future of the land.

About 30 residents of the community, joined by City Councilman Bill Cleator, had a long-awaited opportunity Friday to make suggestions on the fate of the 66-acre area to Assemblyman Nolan Frizzelle (R-Huntington Beach), vice chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

For supporters of California 252, construction of the highway that would link Interstates 5 and 805 would bring relief to the traffic congestion in National City.

But mayoral candidate Cleator, arguing that construction would produce noise and pollution, said that “building a freeway is not the way we want to treat this neighborhood.”

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Jose Pacheco, a member of the community’s Neighbors United for Neighborhood, suggested that the state should widen surface streets to ease traffic congestion in the area, which has about 50,000 residents.

Verna Quinn, an area resident and member of the Southeast Redevelopment Committee, suggested that the city redevelop the 252 Corridor to create jobs for the neighborhood. The area has the highest unemployment rate in San Diego.

“By building a highway, the state is saying that we are not as good as any other community,” Quinn said. “We deserve something better than one more freeway.”

Other residents complained that decisions about the area’s fate were made without their consent or knowledge; they said this was related directly to the ethnic makeup of the community, which is mostly black and Hispanic.

Frizzelle, however, said that many of the decisions were made before the current residents lived there.

Plans for California 252 were first considered in the early 1960s to combat the projected freeway congestion, much of it coming from National City’s commercial area.

The state Transportation Commission earlier this spring rejected a call by National City to build the freeway but ordered National City and San Diego to negotiate an alternative solution to the traffic problem.

In August, the commission will consider final sale of the freeway right of way to the City of San Diego, which continues to oppose the project.

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