The Metropolitan Transit Development Board on Thursday unanimously endorsed a three-way trade of state transit money that would free up $20 million to extend the San Diego Trolley at least to La Mesa within three years.
The swap among San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties would allow construction of that part of the East Line to proceed two years ahead of schedule, said MTDB Chairman Dick Murphy, who negotiated the plan along with fellow board member and City Councilman Ed Struiksma. Plans call for the East Line to be extended into El Cajon, but financing for construction of the line past Euclid Avenue has been uncertain.
Local transit officials have requested $40 million from the federal government for construction of the East Line, but Congress has voted to allocate only $11 million, and that money is frozen pending federal certification of the project's environmental impact statement.
In unveiling the terms of the swap last week, Murphy said it would be optimistic to assume the line would be built past Euclid Avenue within five years if the deal was not approved.
Rick Thorpe of the MTDB staff said Thursday that construction of the line to Euclid Street is running ahead of its April, 1986, completion date.
Tom Hawthorne, the county's representative on the state transportation commission, worked with transit officials from Orange and Los Angeles counties, lobbying for approval of the pact.
Tom Larwin, general manager of MTDB, said in a report to the board that "indications are that these other agencies are in support."
Locally, approval from the San Diego Assn. of Governments is necessary for the plan to go forward. The state transportation commission is scheduled to vote on final approval at its June 27 meeting in Sacramento.
Terms call for MTDB to receive $20 million from Orange County. In exchange, Orange will receive $8.4 million that was to be spent on widening California 125, $8 million from money slated to widen a stretch of Interstate 5 near the Interstate 805 junction in Sorrento Valley and $4 million earmarked for freeway edge-drains in San Diego County.
Work on California 125 would be delayed for one year; the future of the other projects has yet to be determined. Orange County has a separate trade with Los Angeles County in which it will receive an additional $22 million, enough to complete California 55, the Costa Mesa Freeway.
Noting that a similar deal was consummated for the first phase of the East Line, Mayor Roger Hedgecock, an MTDB member, praised the trade as "the same kind of constructive, creative approach we used the last time we needed money."