When Interstate 15 was extended through City Heights in the mid-1990s, it leveled homes and businesses and cut the community in half. Irate residents demanded concessions from the city and transportation officials, asking for additional infrastructure that might help weave the community back together.
Over the years, City Heights has gotten most of its freeway reparations, but a new neighborhood group is still working to get the last piece the community was promised – the art.
Teralta Park, a four-acre park built on top of a cap stretching over a chunk of the freeway, is the most noticeable attempt to reduce the impact. There are also the two large transit plazas built on bridges extending El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue over the freeway. And now there’s the under-construction Centerline project, which will add two bus rapid-transit stations to the freeway medians underneath the two decks.
The two transit plazas on University and El Cajon actually house elevators and other amenities that have been locked and unused, waiting for the bus stations to open below. Centerline stalled for three decades before finally breaking ground this summer after a long, hard push from residents.
But even when Centerline eventually opens and the elevators, bathrooms and kiosks on the two transit plazas are finally unlocked and activated, a piece of the community’s consolation prize package will still be missing.
The original design for the plazas included artful and interpretive design elements like tile mosaics framing historic photos on large cement planters, colorful metal banners mounted on flagpoles, a timeline detailing the community’s role in building the connective infrastructure over the interstate and a large ground mosaic. Officials lopped those off when construction bids on the plazas came in over budget.
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There is buzz around the brigedecks and its not just from the traffic. Beryl Forman, and other staff members and the board at the ECBBIA have been creating a stir about these under-utilized facilities at El Cajon Boulvevard and the 15 free way for years. 2 years ago we thought we were moving with Filner's (then) newly formed civic innovation lab to create bike infrastucture an meeting space that would have been housed in light up green house like structure. It was the furthest we got with Caltrans who holds the lease for the kiosks. Out went Filner, visionary and shaker Blackson, plans stalled. In came a stronger Studebaker, already strong and City Heights committed Marti Emerald and as of the last 4 months a very interested and engaged Mayors office. Also entered the Urban Land Institute who did a study with steps to success on the I15 corridor in City Heights and with attention to the bridgedecks in particular. In the presentation last night at the Rock Church on the boulevard experts call out the parcels of land adjacent to the bridge decks which the ECBBIA is now the lease holder for the North-east parcel on ECB. Their suggested uses of such a small parcel should be focused around community activation and congregation and future plans to include a TOD element to capitalize on the two Rapid bus routes. The ECBBIA is a step ahead and we've hit the ground running. with our first activation of the north-east corner tagged #popup15 last night. Plans for POP-UP
15 include a partnered endeavor with the Mid-city Parking District of a bike valet /bike kitchen this summer to encourage biking as an alternate form of transportation to the transit hub where riders can then bus to a further destination. We intend to work with MTS on the roll out.
other events include a partnership with the Media Arts center and lisc on a movie night weekly. Partnership with the Little Saigon foundation on a night market, and more community inspired events. The ECBBIA is looking for more ideas, partners, and coordinators. As for the future plan we have a date with Jonathan Hereira from the Mayors office to travel up to Long beach to study their Bike storage and transit center. Good things groing at #popup15 and the coolevard
Elevators to empty taxpayer subsidized buses with taxpayer-funded freeway art? Could they possibly waste any more money?
@William Charles Those buses along the 15 don't run empty and often run quite full. I should know as I've been commuting on them since service on the Rapid 235 route began in June 2014. Ridership has been steadily increasing. The real waste is design of the centerline stations. The don't make use of the existing elevators and will require persons making connections between buses on El Cajon and University and those on the 15 to traverse much longer distances to make those connections.
I also ride the 235 and it's usually full. Sometimes the bike racks on the front are full too which means I have to wait for the next one.
Drivers pay less than half the cost of roads via gas taxes, then decry spending on public transit with false claims of empty buses. Priceless.