April 2012 home page

Ann Gardner | Via Latina


Locally Preferred Alternative.
California Department of Transportation


CALTRANS, the California Department of Transportation, is proposing a Locally Preferred Alternative for its controversial I-5 freeway expansion project. The Alternative, the Express Lanes Only Option, came about largely due to public uproar over wider alternatives described in the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) and subsequent signing of Senate Bill 468 limiting freeway expansion and requiring “hand in hand” transit projects.

The Alternative would add one new lane in each direction along I-5 between La Jolla and Oceanside creating two new express lanes on each side (where generally one car pool lane now exists) plus eight travel lanes, or an 8+4 rather than a 10+4 option. The Express lanes would be free to transit and carpoolers but, according to CALTRANS, available also to solo drivers for a fee.

P.L.A.G.U.E. (Prevent Los Angeles Gridlock Usurping the Environment), a local organization that hired environmental attorneys to challenge the Draft EIR, will likely turn a critical eye on the preferred alternative when the Final EIR is issued later this year. Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley remain concerned about the width of the freeway bridge over the River and its impact on adjacent hiking and bicycle trails. They note the new bridge would still add an additional 37 feet on each side causing the existing slopes to be replaced with steep, reinforced banks.

The California Coastal Commission must approve the project’s final work plan before construction starts. That plan is expected to include additional transit and environmental improvements.


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