You probably already know this, but just to establish a common understanding, Regents Road has been planned (but not yet completed) as a key north/south arterial route in the University City area since early conceptual drawings during the Eisenhower Administration in the late 1950’s.
Just what is standing in the way of completing Regents Road? That’s the big question.
By the way, The City is planning 50 major construction projects in North UC. They want to have it both ways. The City and the UC Planning Group (UCPG) think this is great stuff. They act like they don’t realize that an already intolerable traffic situation will only get worse in spite of what our District 1 City Council member says about “changing traffic patterns.” http://www.lajollalight.com/news/sd-city-launches-shift-san-diego-platform-20170801-story.html. More traffic capacity is needed. Don’t worry though. They’re giving you a website to help you understand the reasons for your inconvenience — http://www.shiftsandiego.com/. They’re not giving you any additional roadway routes or capacity, but you’ll get a website!
Why is a completed Regents Road needed? It is needed because traffic is at or near capacity during at least three peak hour periods during the day on the only other north/south surface arterial in University City – Genesee Avenue. The City’s own traffic studies in support of the current Environmental Impact Report (EIR) (much of which is extraordinarily one-sided, and deficient) bear this out. The conclusions contained in the EIR ignore the traffic crisis on Genesee and the adverse environmental impacts from idling vehicle emissions.
However, the City can’t totally hide from their own data. The EIR traffic data shows numerous failed intersections on Genesee during peak hours in the morning, evening and during the noon hour. The study also shows that a combination of efforts to make Genesee more efficient (smart traffic lights, perhaps) and the completion of the planned Regents Road will result in most of Genesee’s failing intersections to begin operating at acceptable levels. A completed Regents Road won’t perform miracles, but it will:
- Improve the traffic situation on Genesee
- Improve the environment in the UC area by reducing emissions from idling vehicles
- Reduce the mileage driven by people who currently have to circumnavigate the gap in Regents Road
- Provide true multi-modal connectivity for bicyclists, pedestrians, and the disabled who are traveling between South and North UC
- Provide an additional route for emergency vehicles
I’ll write more about the EIR in later posts, but for now let’s address the Top 10 new construction projects that will further exaggerate the already existing traffic related reasons why North and South San Diego must complete Regents Road. Here’s the quick list:
- Westfield UTC Expansion
- Scripps Hospital Campus Expansion
- The New Illumina Facilities – 400 new parking spaces and 170,000 square feet
- Costa Verde High Rise Residential Facility Expansion – xxxx residential homes
- UTC Residential Facility Construction – 500 housing units
- UCSD East Campus Expansion
- Campus Point Drive Campus Renovation and Expansion
- The Trolley Arrival at UTC – millions of commuters
- Condominium and Apartment Projects in the UTC Vicinity – 1,400 housing units
- Other Office and Research Space Projects
I will provide details of each of these over the next three week’s posts.
This post will address the Top 3 – Westfield UTC Expansion, Scripps Hospital Campus Expansion, and the new Illumina Headquarters Building.
Number 1. Westfield UTC Expansion: The University Town Center complex is undergoing a massive expansion, at a cost of $1M a day, and a total cost of $600M. They are growing by almost 35% in adding more square footage. Westfield’s transformation on the west side facing Genesee Avenue will present an imposing, right-up-to-the-sidewalk, sky blocking, 5 story, pay parking mega structure. The parking garage is planned in anticipation of a lot of in and out traffic for the new center.
Figure 1. Construction Abounds at Westfield UTC
Number 2. Scripps Hospital Campus Expansion: New and wonderful buildings are going on up on the Scripps Hospital campus. In 2010 Scripps unveiled plans to invest $2 Billion in upgrading and expanding the La Jolla campus at the north end of Genesee Avenue.
How we will all get to these new buildings and medical resources and how much time it will take are the big questions. They will eventually replace the hospital with three new towers. Scripps recently opened the Prebys Cardiovascular Center on the campus. They really want to be your complete healthcare provider.
The Prebys Cardiovascular Institute
However, they have been notably silent about the increasing north/south roadway capacity requirements in the University City area so people can travel to where they are situated. Why? It is very challenging to transport patients to and from South UC to the hospital at Scripps when a patient is in distress.
Number 3: The New Illumina Headquarters. This building provides over 170,000 square feet of headquarters space for the relocation of Illumina’s HQ operations; with lease options on more space in the area. The genome technology mega business (over $2 Billion last year) will have an HQ building with parking for approximately 400 vehicles. We need what they do and we want them to be successful. We also want the employees to be successful and timely in their commute to and from work between North and South San Diego; complete Regents Road.
Figure 3. Construction of the New Illumina Headquarters in North UC
Next week’s post will address the UTC and Costa Verde high-rise residential projects and the UCSD campus expansion.
I’ll leave you with this thought: at a recent UC Planning Group (UCPG) meeting where everyone was praising the City Council’s decision not to complete Regents Road (essentially not to build the bridge) I was told by an attendee that the reason he opposed the bridge was that he opposed “development”. Yet, the UCPG is the very body that has given the green light to many of these projects in North UC. There are over 50 major construction projects planned in this area in the next five years.
In my opinion, improving roadway capacity isn’t development. It is building the infrastructure needed to support development which has clearly been recommended by the UC Planning Group and approved by the City.
It should be one way or the other. We either step up to completing the planned roadway infrastructure to support the growing North UC economic engine or we shut down all of the new construction projects.
Until next week.