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WHO DECIDED . . . ? : . . . to Build the Coronado Bridge? And Discontinue the Coronado Ferry?

December 25, 1985|MIKE GRANBERRY | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO History is a fickle beast.

Almost always open to conjecture, it rarely passes up the chance to avoid controversy--especially where legends are concerned. History can be kind--or incredibly, indelibly mean. It can give credit to true believers, and deservers. Or break the reputation of those who merit a far better kiss of fate.

San Diego is no different from any city as far as lore is concerned. Who gets credit for the legends of "America's Finest City"? Is it a pioneer, a clear thinker, a creative soul, a hard worker with a heart in the right place? Or is it someone who happened along at just the right time to inherit a priceless bit of folklore that he or she can cling to forevermore?

How often have you wondered who decided this or that about San Diego? Or any place you've lived? Is credit in the right hands, right name, right place? Does it matter? Did it ever?

How has who decided the important decisions about your town changed or affected your life, your daily motion? What about the not-so-important decisions, the obvious you never knew existed?

Examining "who decided" is like taking a look at how fate and time shape a city, at how who gets the credit may not always be the truest telling of what really happened.

Or why . . .


Former Gov. Pat Brown and John Alessio, past owner of the Hotel del Coronado.

Alessio, one of Brown's biggest, wealthiest supporters, decided that, to finance the building of a bridge, bonds would have to be sold. To sell bonds, all sources of competition--meaning the ferry boat--would have to be dry docked. After all, who would pay the ticket for a giant bridge if a little ferry was chug-chug-chugging away, taking would-be toll payers to where the bridge would take them--San Diego.

According to Mary Kay Forsyth, executive vice president of the Coronado Chamber of Commerce, Brown and Alessio left open the possibility of ferry service resuming--once the bridge was paid off. The anticipated date of that was 2001.

Surprisingly, Forsyth said, bonds to the bridge may be retired next year. Still, she doesn't foresee the resumption of ferry service anytime soon.

"It would have to be strictly private funding," she said. "And it would have to be a pedestrian-only ferry. An auto ferry (which the old one was) is obsolete in this day and age. Not even private funding could buy that. And where in hell would people park on either side of the bridge? You don't have it in Coronado, you don't have it in San Diego.

"My opinion is, we're stuck with the bridge--as the only transportation artery--for a long time to come, no matter how misty anybody gets about a silly old boat."

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