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City Heights residents who want to ride an express bus along Interstate 15 will be able to pick it up in the freeway’s center lanes after all.

Buses will stop at platforms on the freeway, which passengers will be able to access using elevators or stairs from the overpasses above. The stations will be at University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard.

This week, Caltrans told City Heights transit advocates that it had selected the plan to build freeway-level stations instead of an alternative that would have required buses to exit the freeway and pick up passengers at stations on the off-ramps. The agency plans to formally announce its decision at an April 15 San Diego Association of Governments meeting, according to an e-mail Caltrans’ project manager sent to the City Heights Community Development Corp.

The bus line will connect City Heights residents to job centers downtown and in northern parts of the city and county. The so-called “Centerline” route has been envisioned since the 1980s when the final stretch of Interstate 15 was proposed through City Heights, requiring the eventual demolition of homes and businesses.

But it wasn’t certain whether the route would live up to its name. As recently as last month, Caltrans was still considering a proposal that would have required buses to travel in regular traffic and get off the freeway to pick up passengers. That proposal would have allowed the interstate’s center lanes to be carpool lanes instead.

It also would have potentially put to waste millions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure already built to accommodate the freeway-level stations on overpasses at University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard, as I wrote about last month.

The route is expected to be running by 2014.

Please contact Adrian Florido directly at adrian.florido@voiceofsandiego.org or at 619.325.0528 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adrianflorido.

Adrian Florido

Adrian Florido is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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