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Study shows trolley expansion to San Diego International Airport is 'feasible'

Posted at 1:17 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 16:27:57-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The San Diego Metropolitan Transportation board on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of including plans to expand trolley service to San Diego International Airport on the list for its capital improvement plan.

In a recent study regarding a transportation system connecting public transit to the airport, 65% of San Diegans asked were in support of the plan.

However, the initiative wasn’t pursued because of the pandemic.

Now, the possibility is being explored once again, as the MTS Board of Directors listened to the results of the study and project proposal.

The study looked at three different options for construction: An elevated guideway off Laurel Street and two underground options at Hawthorne. MTS staff favored the underground option along Hawthorn Street due to "no airspace restrictions, minimized private property impacts and lowest cost," a statement from the transit agency read.

With this preference in mind, transportation experts from Mott McDonald examined two types of underground construction methods to be considered in a final plan -- tunnel boring and cut and cover.

The study concluded that a trolley-to-airport extension was “feasible” and “can be built in the next ten years,” the MTS stated.

The MTS board authorized staff to pursue federal and state grants for the project, focusing on the underground options that connect to the existing rail alignment near Hawthorn Street, and to continue community outreach efforts.

According to the study, the MTS alignment also proposes a station at each airport terminal running parallel with Harbor Drive, including aligning with the Terminal 1 reconstruction. The proposed alignment could allow future expansion into Point Loma and beach communities.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said, “It’s time to stop talking about it and start doing it. And there’s going to be challenges with anything we do, but the time is now. With significant federal funding out there for infrastructure and with the excitement we saw with the public in connection with this.”

San Diego International Airport has set aside more than $500 million for transportation improvements, including transit to the airport, an MTS statement said.

City News Service contributed to this report