Navy and SANDAG Agree on ‘Grand Central Station’ for Point Loma’s Former SPAWAR Site

by on July 10, 2019 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Federal and local government agencies formalize talks around using base for airport transit hub.

By Jennifer Van Grove / San Diego Union-Tribune / July 10, 2019

The Navy is making room for the possibility of a much-talked-about transit center, one that local leaders have dubbed “San Diego Grand Central Station,” at the 70-acre base that overlooks Interstate 5 in Point Loma.

Wednesday, the Department of the Navy, Commander Navy Region Southwest and the San Diego Association of Governments announced that they have entered into a contract, or memorandum of understanding, that identifies a mutual interest in using the oft-called SPAWAR site for a future transportation hub that connects all rail types and provides access to San Diego International Airport. …

A few miles from downtown and the airport, the Naval Base Point Loma, Old Town complex is home to the recently renamed Naval Information Warfare Systems Command and Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific divisions. The cybersecurity personnel use the site’s World War II-era hangars for lab space, storage, warehousing and administration needs. However, the Navy plans to eventually seek redevelopment proposals for the 70.46-acre property, offering a long-term ground lease in exchange for new facilities for its workers.

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Avatar Sam July 10, 2019 at 7:20 pm

I just don’t get it. There is only one trolley line running through that part of town. How exactly will this facilitate a “Grand Central Station?” Are all the other trolley lines going to be re-routed to go through that station? Where are all of the tracks going to be laid? Will the Old Town transit center be removed or will there now be a stop at Old Town, the Grand Central then Washington? That would slow down the already slow mass transit that is in place. This needs a re-think as far as I’m concerned.

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Avatar Paul Webb July 11, 2019 at 10:04 am

Sam raises some very good points. When airport transit ridership is dropping at the California airports that have either direct rail access to the airport (SFO) or a rail and people-mover connection to the airport (OAK), maybe it’s a good time to hit the pause button and really look at transit, similar to the way that SANDAG is re-thinking transit for the rest of the County. While the airport has committed $500 million, the people mover at LAX is estimated to cost $4 billion, and that’s before the inevitable contract amendments and cost overruns. Before we commit scarce public dollars for grandiose construction projects, maybe we should try something simple and cheap, like a luggage-friendly small shuttle bus similar to those previously used by the rental car companies, to connect the Old Town Transit Center to the airport. We could use this to gather data and see if there really is a demand for transit to the airport before getting into a really expensive project for which we cannot demonstrate a demand.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the convenience of using the metro systems of European cities to get to/from the airport, but those systems were designed with transit connections in mind (Madrid and Zurich come to mind as really convenient systems, although I haven’t tried Zurich in many years). What we are talking about in SD is tacking on a new “grand central station” as an afterthought to an existing system, one that is clearly not designed for airport access. That is a completely different animal than a cohesive transit system.

I would also add that if, somehow, a fixed rail system to the airport is implemented, it should continue out to the submarine base and SPAWARS complex (I know, the name has changed) on Point Loma to relieve some of the traffic on Rosecrans and other Point Loma streets.

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