Agreeing that waterfront lands will benefit from the proposed bayside trolley line, the Board of Port Commissioners on Tuesday took a first step toward helping to pay for the $40-million project.
The commissioners asked San Diego Unified Port District staff members to estimate the district's benefit from construction of the line, which will start at Grape Street and sweep past Seaport Village and the future convention center before heading east on L Street and linking up with the existing South Line at Imperial and 12th avenues.
Several Port District tenants, including Seaport Village and the convention center, will be served by the new line, which will bring employees to work and tourists to shop and reduce the need for new parking spaces, Metropolitan Transit Development Board Chairman James Mills said.
"I agree that some contribution is warranted from the Port District, and we're all just grappling with what the number should be," said commission chairman Dan Larsen. Several other commissioners made similar comments.
Mills told the commissioners that the line will be built regardless of whether they contribute, with $32 million coming from a future city bond issue. But without commission funding, construction might have to be scaled back or delayed, he said.
In May, the Metropolitan Transit Development Board asked the commission to contribute $20 million, or half the cost of the line, which is scheduled to open in 1989. But that changed Tuesday, when Mills said MTDB is seeking a contribution that reflects the Port District's gain, which he estimated at $11 million to $14 million.
The commissioners also asked the Port District staff to look at the controversy over whether the trolley should run in a continuous loop through downtown, or retrace its path to send more trains through the C Street corridor.
The MTDB has chosen the latter routing pattern, known as the "hook." But a downtown business group has advocated the other pattern, known as the "loop," or at least installation of track links that will allow a loop routing pattern in the future.