Balboa Park construction delayed to February
Written by Roger Showley
San Diego Union Tribune - Original article
This touched-up aerial photo of Balboa Park shows the route of the proposed bypass bridge from the Cabrillo Bridge to the Alcazar Garden parking lot. - Plaza de Panama Committee
October 19, 2012 - The start to the $45 million plan to remove cars and parking from the center of Balboa Park has been delayed at least to mid-Februrary, pending legal challenges.
The Plaza de Panama Committee, headed by Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, announced the delay this week, saying the original fall start date cannot be met.
The Save Our Heritage Organisation sued the city over its approval of the Jacobs plan to build a bypass off the Cabrillo Bridge, a parking garage south of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and other features in the plan meant to turn much of the park's central mesa back over to pedestrians.
SOHO objects to the bypass because of its impact on the look of the western facade of the California Quadrangle, containing the San Diego Museum of Man and its iconic California Tower.
The organization also questions the legality of charging for parking in the 800-space garage because the park was established as "free" in state legislation in the 1870s.
"SOHO's lawsuit to stop the project has caused the Plaza de Panama Committee to temporarily postpone construction," the committee said on its website. "A final hearing on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 1, 2013, so the construction schedule has been adjusted to begin shortly after that date."
The committee says even with the delay, completion could still come in early-October 2014, in time for the start of the 2015 centennial celebration of the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition in the park.
Presumably, any ruling against the committee's plans would delay construction further.
SOHO Executive Director Bruce Coons called the committee's revised schedule "overly optimistic," not only because he expects to win the lawsuit but also because of possible appeals and another suit expected over the proposed bond issuance for the garage.
"It's a pipe dream," he said of the February start date.
The schedule for the project is now as follows:
- Phase 1, February-March 2013: Close east side of organ pavilion parking lot and northern portion of Pan American Road to allow for utility relocation.
- Phase 2, April 2013-April 2014, Phase 2A, 3 months: Close pavilion parking lot and Pan American Road East, start parking structure, tunnel deck and bypass, "Centennial Bridge." Phase 2B, 10 months: Complete garage and bridge.
- Phase 3, March-June 2014: Reconfigure Alcazar Garden parking lot (behind House of Charm) and relocate utilities.
- Phase 4: June-October 2014: Reconfigure Plaza de Panama outside San Diego Museum of Art and Plaza de California outside San Diego Museum of Man, open Centennial Bridge, reopen Alcazar lot to dropoff service and handicapped and valet parking, open organ pavilion garage.
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