A fictional news article I would love to read someday. How can we make this actually happen?
September 10, 2017: In an announcement made today, the City of San Diego and Caltrans declared what seemed to be impossible in car-obsessed Southern California: the closure of two freeways. In the announcement, Mayor Todd Gloria informed a skeptical crowd that beginning in three years, two freeways in San Diego's urban core will be closed:
- Interstate 5 south of the interchange with Interstate 8 to the interchange with Interstate 15
- The 163 Freeway south of Interstate 8.
The only roadway to remain will be devoted to a rapid bus line running in a dedicated lane between downtown and the Old Town Transit Center. In addition, the HOV lane on Interstate 5 will now be exclusively used by this new rapid bus line running to North County as well as approved vanpools and shuttles.
The state will be auctioning off most of the land currently occupied by Interstate 5 to allow for urban development to reconnect the neighborhoods torn apart when the freeway was built. The proceeds of the sale will fund new parks on some remaining parcels, more frequent buses and trolleys on the current routes, and a new Trolley connection to San Diego airport.
Additionally, some proceeds will be used to fund the improvements along the 163 freeway location. In an ambitious plan, Mayor Gloria targeted a three-year construction blitz to install a new streetcar line running from Fashion Valley to downtown, with two stops in Hillcrest, a stop at Balboa Park, and a terminus at the City College transit center. In the remaining 163 right-of-way, a bike path and walking trails will be installed with the remaining area devoted to parkland.
As talks of these plans progressed, many saw the writing on the wall and decided to abandon their North County enclaves to move closer to downtown. It is anticipated that this will only accelerate after the formal announcement. Some will relocate to the new developments being built on the former freeway locations. Others will likely move to the up and coming neighborhoods of Golden Hill, Sherman Heights, and Logan Heights. Although gentrification concerns remain, these booming neighborhoods are full of construction of new, modern houses and the remodeling of turn-of-the-century classics. Many new residents have been surprised at how much they prefer the 15-minute Decobike ride to work over the hour-and-a-half commute from North County.