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Lawsuit Aims at Jackson Drive Extension

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Environmental and neighborhood activists took aim again Thursday at the city of San Diego’s traffic-control plans, suing the city--for the second time this year--in an attempt to halt the four-lane extension of Jackson Drive through an urban park.

Updating a suit filed originally in January with new claims of environmental damage and fiscal waste, the activists filed suit seeking to stop the 2.4-mile link through Mission Trails Regional Park to California 52.

The lawsuit alleges that the project would not provide “significant relief” to traffic in the city’s congested eastern neighborhoods. A 1988 study prepared by the county’s Regional Transportation Commission says exactly that, so spending $90 million to build the road, especially through an environmentally sensitive park, makes little sense, the suit claims.

The suit was filed against the city, City Council and the commission, which funds certain transit projects. It was brought by a neighborhood group called Citizens Against the Jackson Drive Extension; by the founder of that group, San Diego State University professor Peter Andersen and by the Mountain Defense League, a group of local environmentalists.

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As before, the suit asks a judge to order a halt to the project and to award costs and lawyers’ fees to the activists. No initial hearing date was set.

The Jackson Drive extension is designed to provide residents in the city’s Grantville, San Carlos, Allied Gardens and Del Cerro neighborhood relief from cars that cut through their communities on the way to Interstates 8 and 15. It also would give those residents a north-south connector route.

The road would run north from Jackson Drive’s existing terminus at Mission Gorge Road to a yet-to-be built east extension of California 52 and would require a 1,600-foot bridge across the San Diego River and bridges over smaller canyons.

Though approved by the City Council last Nov. 27, the project must still earn several federal permits before construction begins.

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The chance of gaining those permits is “extremely remote,” the lawsuit claimed, especially because the project right of way now sports at least one nest built by a least Bell’s vireo, a bird on the federal endangered-species list.


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