CHULA VISTA (NEWS 8) – Tension boiled over in South Bay Tuesday night as parents confronted a SANDAG representative about a construction project they said is putting their children’s safety at risk.
The project is a bus line that has been in the works for decades and would connect downtown San Diego to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
Parents are worried the project, which runs right past an elementary school, would endanger students.
SANDAG said the project will make it safer than it is now, but parents have gathered more than 200 signatures to protest the construction.
Tense moments were felt during Tuesday’s City Council meeting over the $128 million project.
“I don’t entirely understand why you need this bus route so much that pedestrian lives are at risk,” said 14-year-old Melanie Jimenez.
The transit improvement project has been in the works for 30 years and would stretch 26 miles.
“Adding this Rapid Transit system would put our kids in jeopardy,” said Lupe Meza, a Hedenkamp School parent.
The concerns are over extending the existing four lanes to six lanes, with two bus lanes down the middle – removing trees, sidewalks and grass area on the north end which parents said shields their children from traffic.
“What is unfortunate is the fact that there is a lot of misinformation going out and concerns about safety,” said SANDAG Director of Mobility, Jim Linthicum.
Construction on East Palomar will start next week. SANDAG told parents they will not be removing any sidewalks or all trees and will add a blinking pedestrian signal.
“If there are things we can do now to tweak it to improve safety, maybe some of the things we have not seen with signage and site distance especially being near a grade school, we want to do that,” said Linthicum.
Still, parents and students said more needs to be done to keep their school and community safe.
“I am worried because some people might get injured from it,” said fifth grade student, Angelina Meza.
SANDAG will host a community meeting next week on November 15th at Hedenkamp Elementary School from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Chula Vista City Council was not allowed to respond to public comment. A spokesperson for the city said it’s been a longtime supporter the South Bay Rapid Transit project and will work with the residents on their concerns.