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Close to Getting There
Ann Gardner | Via Latina


I-5 Northbound, Just North of Del Mar Heights Road Bicycle/Pedestrian Enhancement.  Courtesy Keep San Diego moving.  Click on image to enlarge.

The Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Public Works Plan/Transportation and Resource Enhancement Program (PWP/TREP) for the North Coast Corridor Project to widen I-5 between La Jolla Village Drive and Oceanside were released last month and are expected to go before the California Coastal Commission for approval next spring with construction beginning in 2015. The Final EIR, according to CALTRANS, completes the planning process for the highway component of a $6.5 billion North Coast Corridor Program that also includes a number of projects intended to provide environmental and public transit balance to the highway widening. For instance, there is funding for an environmental review of the proposed San Dieguito Double Track/Platform project that would replace the bridge at Del Mar and construct a seasonal train platform at the Fairgrounds, and for the purchase of lagoon highlands as mitigation for impact on the Coast to Crest Trail.

According to CALTRANS the Final EIR includes and takes into account over 6,000 responses from community members and public agencies to the Draft EIR and Supplemental Draft. The Supplemental was issued after Senate Bill 468 (Kehoe) requiring specific attention to the impacts of freeway expansion on coastal wetlands and public transit improvements to keep pace with freeway expansion, was passed. The Supplemental provided additional information on the environmental impacts, mitigation measures and “enhancements” for the project, and confirmed that CALTRANS would favor an express lanes only option.


Old Sorrento Valley Road Bicycle/Pedestrian Enhancement.
Courtesy Keep San Diego moving.  Click on image to enlarge.


Key changes from the original 2010 Draft EIR include: selection of the narrowest of all the proposed build alternatives, adding express lanes only, as the preferred alternative; a 27-mile North Coast Bike Trail which closes gaps in the existing bike trail network ; projects in a $170 million Resource Enhancement Mitigation Program intended to protect and restore natural habitat at several North Coast Corridor locations; lengthening bridges over the several lagoons intended to improve tidal flow, and a redesigned Manchester Avenue Direct Access Ramp from an overpass to an underpass to minimize project footprint.

Phase One (2015-2018) of the fully funded highway construction will add one HOV lane in each direction from Lomas Santa Fe Drive to State Route 78, replace and lengthen the highway bridges at the San Elijo and Batiquitos lagoons, construct sound walls from Lomas Santa Fe Drive to SR 78 and construct the Lomas Santa Fe Drive to Cannon Rd in Oceanside segment of the 27-mile North Coast Bike Trail.

Although the official 60-day comment period for the PWP/TREP closed on April 29, CALTRANS welcomes additional public feedback that can be submitted by email to NCCPWP@dot.ca.gov. Public agencies and community groups, such as the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley, San Dieguito River Park, Torrey Pines Community Planning Board and the City of Del Mar intend to continue working with CALTRANS on details of the PWP/TREP. For more information readers are encouraged to visit KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/NCC. Note specifically Appendix R of the Final EIR which covers the PWP/TREP. A figure showing planned improvements for the Del Mar area can be found on our website delmarsandpiper.org and will be covered in detail in our next issue.



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