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Stop!  Think Before You Build!
May 2009 | Ann Gardner, Via Latina

CALTRANS simulation (based on an actual photo) of the proposed I-5/SR56 Interchange at the Carmel Valley Road exit.  The view was taken on Carmel Valley Road driving east just before it passes
under I-5.
A second CALTRANS simulation shows the propsed flyover at the I-5/SR56 Interchange at the Carmel Valley Road exit.  The view is to the south-west.  In the distance is the Torrey Pines Preserve.

Opposition to the proposed I-5/SR-56 flyover connectors at Carmel Valley Road pushed the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board at its April meeting to unanimously back an ambitious petition drive aimed at influencing the San Diego Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) transportation plans and projects.
Petition authors claim that SANDAG’s Mobility 2030 Vision plan boasts of strategies to minimize drive alone travel but, in fact, allocate most of its $42 billion budget to highway construction. “Every dollar spent on highways delays or curtails the future for mass transit in San Diego,” the draft petition states. Further, “SANDAG’s approach is to piecemeal major regional road projects into a hodgepodge of smaller segments making assessment of overall environmental impact impossible.”

Signing the petition.  Photo: Stu Smith.

The proposed 5/56 connectors, including a 70-foot high flyover at the northeastern end of Torrey Pines State Reserve and adjacent to existing residential communities, sparked the Board’s alarm over SANDAG’s transportation planning. SANDAG, the petition authors say, puts highway construction ahead of preserving residential communities and sensitive natural habitats. Instead, SANDAG should be prioritizing projects aimed at reducing highway congestion and preserving residential communities and natural habitats. It was also noted at the Board’s April meeting that a new flyover connector at I-5/Via de la Valle has been suggested by the 22nd Agricultural District to handle increased traffic caused by that entity’s proposed development adjacent to the Wetlands Restoration Project. (See the April Sandpiper article Environmentally Fair? for development details.)

Newly elected Planning Board chair Dennis Ridz said flyovers adjacent to lagoon preserves should be as controversial as the 241 toll road extension proposal at San Onofre State Beach in Orange County. He hopes to generate as much public interest in changing the direction of SANDAG as was generated by the Save Trestles campaign that resulted in the defeat of the proposed toll road extension.

Ridz has been serving as co-chair of the Board’s I-5/SR56 sub-committee and three of the five new Board members also sit on the sub-committee. He noted that the group is networking with nearby communities, including Solana Beach and Carmel Valley, and staffed a booth at Lagoon Day in Del Mar, with the goal of mobilizing support for the petition.

The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board is composed of 16 representatives from Del Mar Heights and Del Mar Terrace. Their planning area includes the City of San Diego’s portion of the Wetlands Restoration Project, and they expect to provide significant input to the 22nd Agricultural District’s new Master Plan for the Fairgrounds. The Board has a strong environmental record including advocacy for the closure of Sorrento Valley Road to be redeveloped for hiking, bicycling and as a Preserve overlook.


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