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Local Residents Celebrate The New 52
SANTEE -- In many ways it was the most California of events. Thousands of local residents gathered to celebrate two new ribbons of concrete snaking through the hills of East County San Diego.
If ever there were a people on this planet who understood the benefits of a good road, it is Californians. And thousands made a pilgrimage Saturday morning to the finished but as-yet-unopened spans that will connect 67 on Santee's east side to a more rapid access to the west and La Jolla.
Roger Carlin, one of the Caltrans engineers who worked on this project, said Caltrans is waiting until early next Saturday morning to let cars go on and then will watch closely the on-ramp at Mast Boulevard on the next Monday to see how commuters adjust to the new options. If Saturday's turnout was any indication, the road will be crowded from day one. Thousands of residents gathered, many on bicycles, awaiting the official ribbon cutting.
Officials too advantage of the masses to remind everyone in speeches about how much collaboration and horse-trading it took to get this road completed. Rep. Duncan Hunter had the awkward moment of being praised publicly for the "earmarks'' his father and he managed through Congress to get the road built in a time when earmarks were considered good things. Hunter tried gamely to distinguish these earmarks as "transparent'' and "done in the light of day'' but none of these locals were complaining about earmarks on this day.
The loudest cheer of the day came when La Mesa City Councilman Dave Allan, subbing for traveling Mayor Art Madrid, took to the stage and declared himself "the last speaker.''
That brought a roar from the 3,000 or so people who had been waiting for an hour on their bike seats for the ribbon cutting that eventually let them ride down a road that won't allow bicycles soon enough.