SAN DIEGO–The final phase of construction is underway to modernize the 32-year-old San Diego Trolley Blue Line – the most heavily used transit service in the San Diego region, with an average weekday ridership of more than 45,000.
San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) began major construction work on the Blue Line last week. Work to totally rebuild the line from Barrio Logan to San Ysidro includes setting up temporary boarding platforms, demolishing and rebuilding existing stations, and replacing track within stations and at adjacent grade crossings.
The Barrio Logan, Harborside, and Pacific Fleet stations are the first to get rebuilt. Construction will last five to eight months at each station. Renovation of the remaining nine stations will be phased to minimize disruption to riders. Most work will take place during the day, with occasional activities scheduled during nights and weekends. All Blue Line stations will remain open throughout construction.
Once complete, the improved stations will include new boarding platforms to accommodate low-floor trolleys, next-trolley-arrival electronic signs, shelters, and seating. Passengers will enjoy easier access, more reliable trip times, and a more comfortable ride.
“In the San Diego region, we are not just dedicating resources to new and expanded transit services. We also are making strategic investments to upgrade our existing transit network,” SANDAG Chair and Santee Councilmember Jack Dale said. “The modernization of the Blue Line will make our system more efficient and accessible, enhancing the ridership experience for millions of passengers for years to come.”
In conjunction with the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), SANDAG began Trolley Renewal work on the Blue Line in 2010 with the replacement of overhead electrical wire. Over the past three years, additional crossovers, switches, and signals have been installed. Grade crossings also have been improved to enable the final phase of construction to proceed.
“The work over the past three years will allow us to totally rebuild the Blue Line with minimal disruption to passengers,” MTS Chair Harry Mathis said. “We are now able to rebuild the entire line without having to close a station.”
More than half of the $660 million that will be spent to modernize the Trolley system in the region is being invested in the Blue Line, which requires much more extensive work to rebuild stations from the ground up. Stations already improved on the Green and Orange Lines required only overlays on station platforms to accommodate low-floor cars.
Overall, Trolley Renewal will bring 65 sleek, low-floor trolley cars to the system regionwide. The new vehicles offer nearly level boarding, eliminating the need for time-consuming mechanical lifts and providing enhanced accessibility for all riders – parents with strollers, passengers in wheelchairs, and travelers with bicycles. The Orange and Green Lines are already operating with the low-floor trolleys; the new vehicles will be added to the Blue Line in late 2014. The result will be faster boarding for all passengers and improved on-time performance.
Trolley Renewal began in fall 2010 and is scheduled to finish in 2015. Overall, the project is projected to directly or indirectly generate about 8,000 jobs for the region. Trolley Renewal is funded by a variety of sources, including TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG; California Proposition 1B and 1A bond money; and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
This year, the American Public Works Association (APWA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) recognized the Trolley Renewal Project with top honors.
Flatiron is the general contractor for the $58 million contract to renovate the Blue Line. The main subcontractors are Truland (signaling and overhead electrical systems) and Veolia (trackwork).
For more information about the project or to sign up for construction alerts, visit KeepSanDiegoMoving.com.