Crews begin work on elevated railway for Blue Line trolley extension

SAN DIEGO — Crews Thursday began building an elevated railway that will carry the Blue Line trolley along Genesee Avenue as part of an 11-mile extension of the trolley from downtown to University City.

The Mid-Coast Trolley project will extend the Metropolitan Transit System’s Blue Line from its current northern terminus of America Plaza along the Interstate 5 corridor to Mission Bay Park, the VA Medical Center, UC San Diego and the Westfield UTC shopping mall with nine new stations beginning 2021.

Blue Line trains will use existing track to travel from downtown to Old Town Transit Center along Pacific Highway.

In the latest phase of the project, which began last year, crews began boring holes for trolley support structures that will support the trolley in the middle of Genesee Avenue, the part of the route that will connect UCSD and Westfield UTC.

“Genesee Avenue is one of the most challenging construction (projects) we’ve taken on at SANDAG,” John Haggerty, the agency’s director of rail, told KUSI.

The work along the busy thoroughfare also includes widening the street in order to accommodate the aerial trolley tracks that will run down its center, Haggerty said.

Transit officials say the extension will provide another public transit option to the Mid-Coast corridor, which is expected to see a population increase of 19 percent by 2030. It will provide additional transportation capacity and an alternative to the congested 5 Freeway.

MTS is purchasing 36 trolleys for the expansion.

The project is expected to cost $2.17 billion. Half the cost will be covered by federal grants and the rest of the funding will come from TransNet, the region’s half-cent sales tax for transportation, according to SANDAG.