By Toni McGowan
Imperial Beach is planning conversion of its portion of the (SR75) state highway to a city street. The City of San Diego is in process of relinquishment for their section of SR75 on the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge as well. According to Assembly-person, Toni Atkins staffer, Deanna Spehn, “Coronado is not interested in taking back its section of the state highway.” Astonishingly, “Caltrans wants to give the entire State Highway 75 back to the cities,” Cathryne Bruce Johnson, from Caltrans District 11, reported the same.
So what is the hold up with Coronado?
Bridge maintenance and other costs fears have paralyzed Coronado elected city leaders.
Spehn’s response was part of an ongoing correspondence between neighborhood advocates regarding legislative action by the National Garden Club and the former neighborhood group TAF when they applied for National Blue Star Highway Status of SR75.
I believe that relinquishment is the only long term solution to the region’s number one problem—traffic. Coronado elected officials blame Caltrans for traffic problems and blocking solutions. Caltrans says Coronado refuses to manage the roadway as city street. Mayor Tanaka reported to me he believes the State of California can manage SR75 better than the City of Coronado.
So who is to blame for unmanaged traffic and dangerous mobility and access conditions on SR75? Elected officials.
They have consistently failed to negotiate ‘to win’ as Imperial Beach’s Mayor, Serge Medina has. Nor, have Coronado leaders been willing to gain the facts necessary to evaluate the real costs and benefits if we took ownership of our own streets, our own destiny.
Medina wisely negotiated over the new Naval Coastal Campus for Imperial Beach Complete Streets improvements that included roadway beautification along SR75 portion in their city. In order to make wonderful improvements, the street needs to belong to the city where things such as extended bulb-outs, flashing pedestrian lights, road diets, and speed bumps are not restricted by state highway law. His leadership opened the door to relinquishment.
Our leaders made no effort at negotiating mitigants for any part of Coronado. And in fact, did not challenge the navy on its claim the Naval Campus would have ‘zero’ transportation effect on any streets in Coronado. Nor did they require the environmental impact studies that Imperial Beach leaders did. I believe Pomona Avenue will find that misstep will cost them dearly in five to ten years.
What needs to happen is for the City of Coronado to make a formal request to Caltrans for relinquishment. That is all that is needed to begin the conversation and negotiations with Imperial Beach, San Diego, and the state of California: Caltrans District 11.
What can you do? Demand your representatives get that issue onto the Council agenda for discussion and community input – and include that city staff request a cost analysis from Caltrans that beaks down individually our two state highway costs within Coronado city limits; SR75 and SR282.
As they say in Child Advocacy work: “The State does not make a good parent.” It doesn’t make a good mayor either.
Toni Atkins staff believes as I do, “There has to be a solution and that’s what we are working on.”