The cost and design of a proposal to make the old toll plaza safer and more pleasing to the eye was presented at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
A city report dubbed the area the “Gateway to Coronado,” but the zone suggests little about the rest of the community. Mayor Casey Tanaka described the plaza as a “cross between an industrial area and a parking lot.”
Plans call for replacing it with decorative medians and vegetation, including date palms, blood red trumpet vine and mauve blue flame.
The medians also would be added to slow the speed of vehicles coming off the San Diego-Coronado Bridge so motorists can transition from “a highway environment to a residential neighborhood setting,” the report said.
The design was created by RBF Consultants, but it is only a suggestion. After viewing the presentation the council made it clear that public input would be paramount in order to make a decision.
“We should invite people who live down there to take a look at it,” Councilman Al Ovrom said.
The project is expected to cost a little over $800,000, with funds coming from the $7 million in remaining revenues from the old toll, which ended in 2002. The money was set aside to mitigate an increase in traffic, Councilwoman Carrie Downey explained.
Councilwoman Barbara Denny opposed the idea. “It’s a good project, but it’s not the right time,” she said. “With this down economy with no end in sight, taxpayers want the spending to stop.”
She also questioned using toll funds for projects that don’t directly help residents of Third and Fourth streets. “We should be providing them with double-paned windows and shrubs” to muffle the traffic noise, she said.
Others bristled at Denny’s suggestion that the project might be wasteful. This city has a history of “being prudent with taxpayers’ money,” Ovrom said.
“We can only use it for limited purposes and this will benefit everyone,” Tanaka said.