SANDAG ‘Screwed Up’ Its Bikeways Plan, Continues to Face Neighborhood Opposition, Bureaucracy and Cost-Overruns

by on December 10, 2021 · 0 comments

in San Diego

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata admits the agency “screwed up” its plan to create 70 miles of bicycle lanes and bikeways throughout San Diego County.

Since 2013, when the plan was adopted by the San Diego Association of Governments — eight years ago, it has completed 14 miles of bikeways and spent $186.5 million. SANDAG is planning to finish 11 more miles by spring of 2022 and to begin on another 18 miles by the end of 2022.

The original plan was to build 77 miles of streets and pathways by 2023 for $200 million. Now, the cost has risen to $446 million, even after SANDAG dropped 7 miles from the project. Officials say that rising construction costs have contributed to problems.

But, SANDAG was able to bring in state and federal funding to cut down its own price tag. In fact, the San Diego U-T reported, “the agency now estimates it may end up spending less of its own funding — which comes from the half-cent sales tax Transnet — than it initially anticipated.”

It hasn’t been all cost-overruns. It’s also been the bureaucracy of the City of San Diego, where nearly three-quarters of the bike projects are located. But now that Todd Gloria is mayor, SANDAG is more confident. Jim Linthicum, chief of capital programs and regional services at SANDAG, told the U-T:

“It helps so much under Todd Gloria’s administration to have the verbal and active support of the mayor of San Diego. It means a lot.”

The delays and complexities of the projects have also been met by community opposition, from merchants and residents. Particularly, opposition to the loss of on-street parking.

  • Over neighborhood opposition, the city this summer opened a 2.4-mile stretch of protected bike lanes on 30th Street from Adams Avenue to Juniper Street. The project displaced roughly 450 parking spots.
  • the Hillcrest Business Association and supporters delayed for years a project called Uptown Bikeways, which included the lanes on Fourth and Fifth avenues. The group was eventually able to negotiate a redesign of several segments that limited the loss of parking.

Another project that has had its ups and bumps is a 6.6-mile bike route running along Mead Avenue, Georgia Street and Landis Street. It’s impressive with 19 traffic circles, 14 speed bumps, nine curb extensions and three raised crosswalks, as well as flashing pedestrian signs and street repairs. It also will, when completed, eliminate more than 200 parking spaces.

It’s not as simple as painting white stripes to create a bike lane. SANDAG and the city are increasing the creation of protected lanes, according to the San Diego U-T.

“These facilities separate riders and drivers using raised concrete or plastic bollards. The process of overhauling a street to create such lanes often involves removing dozens, sometimes hundreds, of parking spaces.”

SANDAG remains optimistic. It hopes to complete up to 35 individual projects by 2026. These include finishing the Bayshore Bikeway and finalizing the final stretches of a 44-mile Coastal Rail Trail from downtown San Diego to Oceanside.

News source: San Diego Union-Tribune by Joshua Emerson Smith.

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