Detour for Downtown Trolley Riders: Civic Center Stop Closing for 3 Months

New challenges now face MTS trolley riders who commute to and from downtown

By Gene Cubbison
|  Friday, May 11, 2012  |  Updated 9:32 PM PDT
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MTS Closes Popular Stop

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MTS Closes Popular Stop

Starting Monday, passengers who transit to and from the Civic Center stop will have to use the one at Fifth Avenue, two blocks away, for the next three months. Gene Cubbison spoke to resident Veronica Smith of Chula Vista about the impact this will have.
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New challenges now face MTS trolley riders who commute to and from downtown.

The busy Civic Center station -- in front of City Hall -- will close for three months starting Monday, as part of a system-wide upgrading project.
               
Riders with jobs near the Civic Center stop will get on and off trolleys two blocks to the east on C Street at the Fifth Avenue station, or seven blocks west at the stop near One America Plaza,

During peak-commute hours, they may have to endure delays.

"The trolley's going to be over-packed, probably one lane," predicted Chula Vista resident Veronica Smith as she waited Friday for a home-bound trolley.  "People are going to have to wait an hour, or 30 minutes just to get home or to work if it gets over-packed."

Downtown resident Denton Stevens agreed: "Those trolleys are going to be full.  But they've got to get it fixed in order to accommodate the new cars."

Stevens was talking about the 65 new "low-floor" cars that provide quicker on-and-off access for wheelchairs, scooters, and pedestrians alike.

They'll replace about half of the Metropolitan Transit System's current light-rail fleet of 130 trolley cars.
               
The new rolling stock's costs represent a good chunk of the $720 million MTS is spending on the project, which involves   converting its tracks, switches, fiber optics and station platforms to run the low-floor cars throughout the entire system.
               
Passengers with disabilities who are now served by trolley operators will be able to push buttons to activate the low-floor access ramps.
               
A lot of preparation work already has been done along the C Street corridor.
               
Officials say contractors have overcome problems in the "learning curve" that kept some prior station makeovers, including passenger shelters, from finishing on schedule.

Now, early prep work has helped streamline the platform conversion efforts. 

"We did grade crossings at both 10th and 11th Streets, so we had to close it down, dig up all the concrete, replace the ballasts, replace the tracks," explained MTS spokesman Rob Schupp. 

"Now we're moving on to the station platforms ... we're really packing a lot of work into little segments so that we're  disrupting people as little as possible."
               
On Wednesday, MTS will shut down the station at 25th and Commercial in Barrio Logan, and open a temporary station at 24th Street for three months.
               
The Middletown station closes May 21, with shuttle bus service to-and-from the Little Italy station.
               
Schupp says upgrading work on the system will continue for at least another year.
 

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