Escape from Mission Valley

Mission Valley hikers can pick a path nearly all the way to the sea

Thousands of traffic-locked pedestrians are about to be able to escape tract housing on foot, thanks to a plan that's percolated for more than a decade.

City officials will unlock the gates Wednesday on the Ruffin Canyon Pedestrian Tunnel. San Diego officials -- including City Councilmembers Donna Frye and Todd Gloria and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith -- will attend a ribbon-cutting at 2 p.m.

The underground passage below Friars Road near Fenton Marketplace (think Costco, shoppers) was originally built in 1968 as a truck crossing. The idea of using the tunnel for a pedestrian walkway was conceived in the mid-'90s as mining operations in the area came to a close.

While the tunnel provides connectivity to the southern end of Ruffin Canyon from the north side of Friars Road, it is not, unfortunately, the final piece of the puzzle for Mission Valley hikers and bikers trying to reach the sea, who still have to  play a dangerous, time-consuming game of traffic-dodging.

According to a spokesman at the San Diego River Park Foundation, there are still holes between Qualcomm Way and the Fenton Marketplace, at state Route 163, and between Fashion Valley Road and Sefton Park, which sits on the north side of Interstate 8 below Presidio Park.

Designs have been submitted for the Mission Valley Greenway Initiative, which would connect the bike path/walkways from Fenton Marketplace to Qualcomm Way, but it is still in the planning stages, according to the river park foundation.

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