By Jessyka Heredia
March 19, 2023 (La Mesa) - On February 28th, the La Mesa City Council heard an update from Karen Jewel, the Caltrans Project Corridor Director, on the State Route 94/125 Interchange Project that aims to provide freeway-to-freeway connection from southbound SR-125 to eastbound SR94 as well as ease congestion and improve traffic flow.
“The project will include four Bridges,10 retaining walls, 21 proposed sidewalks, bike, pedestrian and ADA improvements,” reported Jewel.
Caltrans has been preparing utility relocation designs and right of way acquisitions as well as environmental studies for permanent de-watering, plus seeking construction funding.
When Caltrans received the results of the Groundwater Study, they found that the volume/height would “require permanent pumping and treatment before being re-entered into the storm drain system.” Unfortunately, these findings will delay the connector phase by three to five years. Therefore, Caltrans is recommending a separate project into 2 phases.
Phase one would include auxiliary lanes for northbound and South bound SR 125 and Eastbound SR94. It would include the Mariposa bridge, some of the soundwalls and retaining walls, as well as bicycle, pedestrian and ADA improvements. Phase two would include the connector and the remaining sound and retaining walls.
Colin Parent asked, “Are there plans to have a managed lane on 94/125 in this area?”
Jewel responded that “In SANDAG’s RTP, Regional Transportation Plan, they have a whole managed lane system setup for the County, mainly in urban areas and freeways.” She added that there “are plans to manage lanes on 125 and 94 as it approaches.”
The Project is estimated to cost upwards of $92 million dollars and be completed in 2028.
Work plans were presented for 2023 by the Community Police Oversight Board, Environmental Sustainability Commission, The Mobility Commission and the La Mesa Community Parking Commission.
Outgoing Police Oversite Committee Chair Janet Castanos introduced Leroy Johnson, the new chair for 2023 and announced that they have “three vacancies on the CPOB in two of the quadrants” emphasizing, “Quadrants 1 and 3 need representation.”
Ricky Williams of the Environmental Sustainability Commission and Michael Calandra from the Mobility Commission both spoke of their goals for 2023 in working with the city staff and Council to improve sustainability and traffic calming programs.
The Community Parking Commissioner spoke about project plans to replace the outdated coin operated meters in all municipal parking lots as well as add more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and bicycle infrastructure.
Police Chief Ray Sweeney reported little change in violent crime with a small increase in property crime, adding that homicide and rape incidents were down. Sweeney urged the community “to be on the lookout for volunteer” opportunities with the Citizen Academy coming soon.
Councilmember Patricia Dillard asked the Chief if he had “seen an increase in AR-15’s or ghost guns over and above past concerns for the area.” Chief Sweeney responded, “No, not that I’m aware.”
In the Public Comments portion of the meeting, residents took to the podium and called in to express concerns over a battery storage lot that is planned at 8135 El Paso Street.
Amy Reichert, former County Supervisor candidate and co-founder of Re-Open San Diego, called in to express her concerns saying she was “shocked the decibel level is 75 decibels” and encouraged the city to “include the neighborhood in decisions like this.” Her home is near the project. SGD&E has proposed mitigation measures.
Other residents from the neighborhood were concerned with toxicity, property values, proximity to a school nearby, and lack of communication and access to information on the matter by the city.
In the staff reports, Kerry Kusiak gave his recommendations on improving the permitting process with an improved front desk, electronic permit applications and organization changes. Kusiak emphasized promoting a “culture of excellent customer service” and the need to “improve tools and hardware in technology.”
Councilmember Dillard asked about the costs associated with the upgrades to computers needed for this resolution and Kusiak confirmed it was $40K need “in software and technologies.”
The motion passed 5-0.
Councilmembers Shu and Dillard also initiated a request to have staff conduct a review in regard to the salaries of the Mayor, Council and City Treasurer. Dillard reminded staff that the last review of compensation was 2006 while Parent asked for community input in the form of an ad hoc committee. The motion passed unanimously 5-0 with staff directed to create the ad hoc committee to work with staff to decide between a public formed committee or a consultant going forward.
There are several types of managed lanes.
Here is the CalTrans definition of the options: https://dot.ca.gov/programs/traffic-operations/managed-lanes
"Managed Lane is an operational practice utilized to address congestion by controlling traffic movement on the highway. Two common approaches to lane management are restricted use based on vehicle eligibility, and control of access through limited ingress/egress. Vehicle eligibility can be based on occupancy or vehicle type."