Trolley at Tecolote Road
A trolley at the new Tecolote Road station. Courtesy SANDAG

SANDAG and the Metropolitan Transit System hosted a preview Saturday of the Mid-Coast Extension of the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley.

Attendees had the opportunity to ride a portion of the trolley extension before it opens in November.

The Mid-Coast on Morena Community Appreciation Festival celebrated the nearly completed construction of the Tecolote Road, Clairemont Drive and Balboa Avenue stations. Festivities included family-friendly activities, local food vendors, live music, giveaways, remarks from dignitaries and trolley rides between stations.

The full $2.1 billion adds 11 miles to the trolley system, extending service from Old Town north to University City. The extension includes nine new stations, three of which are located along Morena Boulevard.

SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear was joined at the event by MTS Vice Chair and National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and Rep. Scott Peters, a long-time trolley supporter who was instrumental in obtaining federal funding for the project.

“SANDAG is incredibly proud to build this significant project and in just a few months, we will deliver it to MTS to operate,” Blakespear said. “This is a significant step toward achieving SANDAG’s vision for the 2021 Regional Plan to provide faster, fairer and cleaner transportation options that will serve the region for generations to come.”

TransNet, the half-cent sales tax administered by SANDAG, will fund approximately half of the project, with the remaining funding provided by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

“The progress of the Mid-Coast Extension has had my full support from the very beginning. What started as a simple idea to improve regional transit options is now a monumental project that will move commuters more efficiently and cleanly, easing traffic congestion and improving air quality,” Peters said.

Peters said securing more than $1 billion for the project “has been a priority for me in Congress.”

Major construction began in 2016, and the project remains on budget and on schedule.

To support the extra service, MTS has added 45 new trolleys built by Siemens Mobility and partially funded by TransNet.

MTS added 128 new positions including train operators, security, maintenance, IT and more to manage the extension.

“This trolley extension is going to open up brand new destinations for people in the South Bay and all over the San Diego region without ever having to get in a car,” Sotelo-Solis said. “It will provide incredible new connections … It’s truly a gateway to opportunity.”

City News Service contributed to this article.

Updated 9:30 p.m. Aug. 28, 2021

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.