Tuesday, September 17, 2013

San Diego Blue Line upgrades roll

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Infrastructure work is under way to modernize the 32-year-old San Diego Trolley Blue Line, the most heavily used transit service in the San Diego region, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) said Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

SANDAG said major construction work on the Blue Line began last week, with plans to "totally rebuild the line from Barrio Logan to San Ysidro," including demolition and rebuilding stations at existing stops, and also replacing track within stations and at adjacent grade crossings.

Barrio Logan, Harborside, and Pacific Fleet stations are the first slated to be rebuilt. Construction will last five to eight months at each station/ All Blue Line stations will remain open throughout construction, SANDAG said.

The work will offer improved station facilities, including new boarding platforms to accommodate low-floor trolleys, next-trolley-arrival electronic signs, shelters, and seating.

"In the San Diego region, we are not just dedicating resources to new and expanded transit services. We also are making strategic investments to upgrade our existing transit network," SANDAG Chair and Santee Councilmember Jack Dale said.

In conjunction with the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), SANDAG began Trolley Renewal work on the Blue Line in 2010 with the replacement of overhead electrical wire. During the past three years, additional crossovers, switches, and signals have been installed. Grade crossings also have been improved to enable the final phase of construction to proceed.

"The work over the past three years will allow us to totally rebuild the Blue Line with minimal disruption to passengers," MTS Chair Harry Mathis said. "We are now able to rebuild the entire line without having to close a station."

The renew program is funded by TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG, as well as California Proposition 1B and 1A bond money, and federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Blue Line runs from Santa Fe Depot/America Plaza to San Ysidro, just shy of the U.S.-Mexican border. The line debuted on July 19, 1981 as the first modern light rail transit operation in the U.S., and the third in North America, following Edmonton and Calgary, in Alberta.