Chula Vista residents sound off over construction of bus lane near school

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A group of Otay Ranch residents packed a Chula Vista City Council meeting Tuesday night hoping to convince members to stop the proposed construction of a rapid transit bus lane in front of Hedenkamp Elementary.

The project is being funded by the San Diego Association of Governments. Most of the lane is completed or under construction. Work on the stretch in front of the school is scheduled to begin November 15.

Parents and other area residents worry the lane will make it harder for children to cross an already busy Palomar Street to get to school.

"I don't entirely understand why we need this bus route while pedestrian lives are put at risk, especially kids since it runs right in front of one of the largest elementary schools in Chula Vista," said Melanie Jimenez, a former student at the school.

SANDAG says the project was planned and approved long ago -- years before the school and the homes around it were built.

"This has been in the books for many, many years but it doesn't mean we're not sensitive to the fact this community wants to make this the best job they can make it. We get it," said Jim Linthicum, SANDAG's Director of Mobility.

Linthicum said the buses will obey all traffic laws and the lane will not turn into a freeway for buses. He said at most, eight buses an hour will pass by the school.