Judge denies residents’ request to stop construction of bus lanes near school

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A group of Otay Ranch residents went to court Tuesday morning in hopes a judge would put a halt to the construction of rapid bus lanes in front of Hedenkamp Elementary School.

But the judge said residents failed to provide enough evidence that the San Diego Association of Governments' plan to run bus lanes through East Palomar Street will be detrimental to the area and the students.

Residents worry the bus lanes will make it difficult for children to cross the street and say the project will reduce bike lines and sidewalks while generating dust and asbestos when crews break up concrete.

But SANDAG, which is funding and coordinating the work, says residents have received false information and have nothing to worry about.

"I know plaintiffs said there's going to be asbestos in the air. There's no asbestos out there. They said the buses are going to make it unsafe. When we're all done, the buses will have to obey all the same traffic rules and certainly have to follow traffic rules when there's a red light and there are pedestrians crossing," said Jim Linthicum with SANDAG.

Many neighbors also say they were never told about the plan, though SANDAG says residents have known about it for 20 years, since the line switched from a planned trolley route to rapid buses.

Residents like Ida Spector vowed not to give up as they try to stop the construction project.

"What we're concerned about is they're jamming six lanes into a corridor that was never designed for this," said Spector.

After the court turned them down, residents attended a Chula Vista City Council meeting to urge councilmembers to step in and stop the project but were unsuccessful.