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Construction underway on Friars/163 project

Posted: October 20th, 2017 | Featured, News | No Comments

By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large

The thousands of drivers every day who pass through the Friars Road area around state Route 163 have already begun seeing roadwork signs, warning of construction work about to be done in that area.

In the next two years, they’ll see many more of those signs, as work proceeds on the two-year, $40 million project to widen and re-route roads and on- and off-ramps.

The onramp to Route 163 off of Friars Road will be closed for at least two years. (Photo by Doug Curlee)

It’s been a headache for people since development started in the west Mission Valley area years ago.

Eventually, roads will be wider, ramps will be easier to access, and trips through it all should be easier — somewhat.

Not everyone in the area is happy about it.

At a recent CalTrans open house at the Mission Valley Library, Linda Vista resident John Pinzini said the noise is going to be unbearable, especially for people living above the construction zone.

“A lot of us don’t have air conditioning. We have to leave the windows at home open, and a lot of this work is going to be done at night,” he said. “How are we supposed to sleep?”

Margarita Castro wants to know why it hasn’t been done before now. “They’ve collected all this money…where is it? What took so long?”

Dorothy Perez lives in Mission Valley.

“It’s going to be a mess — it already is, and it’s only going to get worse,” she said.

While southbound Route 163 is closed (red), traffic will be diverted along Interstate 8 and Interstate 805 (green). (Photo by Doug Curlee)

Mike Harden uses the gas station and convenience store right at the Friars Road on-ramp to northbound 163, and he’s not looking forward to all the trouble.

“It’s gonna be a mess, but it should eventually get better — I hope,” he said.

A number of calls to Fashion Valley seeking their opinion have not been returned, so I can’t say what they think, but it’s worth noting that Fashion Valley has been fighting the project in its area since it was first announced.

Lenny Gardino is the superintendent of construction on the project for Flatiron West, the prime contractor for all the work.

“We’ve done this kind of work for a long time,” he said. “We’ll attack it by moving traffic lanes to the outside of the road to do our work in the middle, then move traffic to the middle while we do the outside lanes. Eventually, we’ll be expanding the three lanes in each direction on Friars Road to four lanes, adding more turn lanes at the on- and off-ramps.”

There is going to be a time when southbound 163 will be closed for work, and that will necessitate using Interstate 8 to the 805 north, and crossing on Aero Drive to access Linda Vista Road — or I-8 to Morena and access Linda Vista Road from the west. That will really inconvenience Linda Vista residents, but Gardino hopes that won’t last long.

One thing that will hopefully make Fashion Valley at least a little happier about all this is that there will be no road closures between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day 2018. That should help preserve the Christmas shopping season as much as possible.

The best advice for everyone traveling through the area in the future is to stay alert to signs and traffic instructions that will be changing regularly as the work proceeds. It’ll be difficult, but this has been needed for decades now, and it’s finally getting done, however slowly.

As they always say: “Grin and bear it.”

— Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at doug@sdcnn.com.

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