By Noel T. Braymer
By 2016, there will be a shuttle bus connection from the Washington Street Trolley Station and the terminals at San Diego International Airport. This is part of a much larger project over the next 20 years to move the main entrance of the airport to the North Side right along the I-5 Freeway, the Trolley and rail lines.
Now under construction is CONRAC, which stands for Consolidated Rental Car Facility. It is a new, large parking structure on the North Side of the airport near Washington Street and the Trolley Station. The CONRAC will divert rental car passenger traffic away from the terminals and city streets. As part of CONRAC, a new perimeter road will be built in the airport to carry shuttle buses for the rental car passengers to the terminals while avoiding airport traffic on city streets. These shuttle buses will also serve the nearby Washington Street Trolley Station to carry Trolley passengers to an from the airport terminals.
This is only stage 1 of several stages planned between now and 2035 for the San Diego Airport. Ultimately the plan is to have all airport passengers arrive and depart at the North Side of the airport. Passengers in the future will connect to the terminals with a People Mover which will go under the runway. As part of this airport overhaul the terminals will be rebuilt and expanded to the maximum number of gates possible for this airport to serve future growth.
San Diego is aware that it can’t build enough parking around the airport for all future passengers. While the majority of airport passengers are expected to come by road, San Diego is also planning on an increase number of airport passengers coming by rail.
At the Washington Street Trolley Station, the Green Line now runs 4 trains an hour in each direction. The Green Line runs from Santee, past El Cajon through Mission Valley to downtown San Diego. By 2019 it is expected that the Blue Line will be extended to Washington Street past Old Town north to UCSD and University Towne Centre. Currently the Blue Line run up to 8 trains an hour in both directions most of the day. In the near future that could mean up to 12 trains an hour stopping at Washington Street Station with connections to the airport.
In the plans is the construction of an Intermodal Transit Center (ITC) for the airport on the North Side. This will be in the area just south of Washington Street and across from CONRAC. This will be a new bus and train station for the airport for Coaster, Amtrak and High Speed Rail Trains. In the future as additional double tracking is built, Coaster trains will run more frequently all day long, with hourly and better service. This new ITC will make the airport the busiest transportation hub in San Diego and the primary destination by rail in San Diego.
A major piece of the ITC will be a pedestrian bridge over Pacific Highway to CONRAC and the future People Mover to the airport terminals. Security searches and baggage check in would taken care of before boarding the People Mover. Construction of the first stages of the ITC for the construction of the pedestrian bridge and station platforms can be expected around 2020 or so.This will be improved over the years with High Speed Rail Platforms built by 2035. By 2035 the San Diego Airport is also planning rebuild and expand the terminals to the maximum number of gates the airport will be able to handle.