San Diego Mayor Bob Filner speaks at transportation event

Groundbreaking ceremony was for trolley project

SAN DIEGO - Mayor Bob Filner refused to address questions about alleged sexual harassment Thursday when he made a rare public appearance at a groundbreaking ceremony for a San Diego trolley construction project.

Filner, who has been accused of unwanted advances, groping or attempts to kiss by at least three women, was surrounded by a throng of local and national reporters and television cameraman when he arrived at and later left the Barrio Logan Trolley Station.

Filner made only a brief statement to the media, saying that "we need to see this process throughout," in reference to the due process he requested when the allegations surfaced.

The event in Barrio Logan was to commemorate the beginning of Blue Line station improvements on the $660 million trolley renewal project.

"I see you found a wonderful way to attract media attention for our efforts on the trolley," Filner joked, as he tried to make light of the intense media scrutiny at the event.

He then continued with prepared statements regarding the trolley improvements.

"This event is about the future of our city. This neighborhood is about the future of our city," Filner said.

Otherwise, he remained silent with a smile pasted on his face. He left immediately following a photo op with other area elected officials.

A new round of construction on the trolley system's Blue Line, the oldest of the system's three routes, began Thursday, Metropolitan Transit System officials said.

The stations along the line between Old Town and San Ysidro will be remodeled to speed loading and unloading of passengers with platforms that accommodate state-of-the-art low-rise trolley cars, next-arrival signs, new shelters and new track and switches.

Details on any planned service outages were not immediately provided by the MTS.

Upgrades have already been performed on the Orange Line, which runs between downtown and El Cajon.

The MTS hope the Blue Line upgrades will provide quicker, more comfortable and convenient trips for riders.