The Port of San Diego held a community forum on Wednesday, Feb. 21, to address existing challenges and identify opportunities for improvement between two cargo terminals.
The forum was held as part of the Harbor Drive Multimodal Corridor, a study that aims to examine how people use Harbor Drive and especially focuses on the area between the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in San Diego and the National City Marine Terminal.
Residents, business owners, and visitors of the area met with staff from the Port of San Diego at the San Diego Continuing Education Cesar E. Chavez Campus from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The event drew residents and workers who use Harbor Drive daily and they identified congested truck routes and modifications that need to be made to improve the use of the popular corridor.
The stretch of land in the study falls inside the community of Barrio Logan, which is an area made up of residential and industrial use, and National City.
Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Rafael Castellanos said Harbor Drive was selected for the study because it’s is an important transportation corridor for trucks and workers from the cargo terminals, shipyards and naval base.
He said they anticipate an increase in business because of the modernization project of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal and the Navy’s increase in personnel.
The Port of San Diego celebrated the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Modernization in January, which is phase one of a $24-million redevelopment project.
According to Castellanos in a previous interview with La Prensa San Diego, the redevelopment project will increase cargo capacity by 400 percent, create over 500 new jobs, and lower air pollution in Barrio Logan.
“We really need to start planning today for how we can improve Harbor Drive to make sure that it is as efficient as possible, that we can handle the increase in traffic, and also that we are taking into consideration the quality of life issues in the communities,” Castellanos said.
The increase in truck traffic is something that concerns Jorge Gonzalez, Barrio Logan community organizer for the Environmental Health Coalition, an organization dedicated to building campaigns against environmental issues in communities.
Gonzalez attended the forum and although he acknowledged it is a step in the right direction he used the platform to speak with Port staff and highlight some issues with semi trucks in the community of Barrio Logan.
He addressed a section on the map of Harbor Drive that truck drivers use that impacts homeowners on Boston Avenue.
“This is just recommended, that’s a resolution,” Gonzalez said while pointing to a Port map that highlighted “preferred truck routes” and “truck prohibition” routes. “It says truck prohibition, should say truck recommendation.”
He said there is no City code to enforce the resolution and penalize drives that use those routes.
A Port staff member said they try to communicate with truck drivers to take alternate routes such as Harbor Drive and 28th Street.
Gonzalez and other members of the community shared their observations of the Harbor Drive with Port staff and marked sections on paper maps that need to be addressed.
“We want to hear from members of the community, members of the industries, the working waterfront, and learn from them what is working today, what’s not working, what are your thoughts, your suggestions on how we can improve Harbor Drive for everyone,” Castellanos said.
Prior to the forum on Wednesday, the Port of San Diego also encouraged the community to use a crowdsource map to leave comments related to their experience using Harbor Drive.
Castellanos said that if members of the community did not have the opportunity to attend Wednesday’s forum, they can use the crowdsource map or attend one of the Barrio Logan Community Planning group, which will hold its next meeting on March 21, and give public comment.
According to Castellanos, the Harbor Drive study will go on for approximately a year and a half but hopes that in a year they will have a set of recommendations for potential improvement projects.
“Once we have those recommendations we can really start to drill down on some planning and as resources become available and as we go out and compete for federal grants and state grants, we hopefully will have shovel ready project or projects that have been designed so we can more effectively go out and secure that money,” Castellanos said.
The area that will be studied falls within the jurisdiction of the City of San Diego, the City of National City, the United States Navy, the California Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transit System, and the Port of San Diego, according to the Port of San Diego website.