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Mid-City Waits Decades for Bus to Come

ChickenCity Heights resident Maria Cortez spoke of her nearly three-decade wait for a bus line to be built along Interstate 15. Transit advocates and a handful of residents met at the site of the long-delayed project to ask that SANDAG prioritize transit investments over highway expansions. | Photo Credit: Randy Van Vleck

By Adrian Florido
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Maria Cortez was 29 years old when she watched her neighbors’ homes demolished to make way for the final stretch of Interstate 15 through City Heights.

It was a traumatic event that transformed her neighborhood. To soften the blow, Caltrans agreed to run a transit line down the freeway that would pick City Heights residents up at overpasses and take them to jobs downtown or in the north.

That started in 1985. Today Cortez is 54, with a few wrinkles and some streaks of gray. The San Diego Association of Governments, the regional transportation planning agency, expects to break ground on the project next year. After waiting nearly three decades, Cortez, who relies on the bus, may finally see that one arrive.

On Monday morning, transit advocates made Cortez the face of their problem with SANDAG’s plan to spend $200 billion on transportation improvements over the next 40 years. Her wait exemplifies what they say is a broader problem in the regional planning agency’s transportation blueprint.

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