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Covert Connectors:
Neighborhoods Kept in the Dark

Dennis Ridz | Chair, Torrey Pines Community Planning Board

Proposed Del Mar Heights Bridge Reconstruction.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Caltrans has chosen the flawed and environmentally destructive Alternative #2 as its “final preferred” alternative for the I-5/SR-56 Connector project, despite the lack of support for this project from the public and the Torrey Pines and Carmel Valley Planning Boards.

This designation is part of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), and I have to applaud Caltrans for issuing this FEIR at the end of June, just before the July 4 holiday, and when most folks are away for the summer. This is important because the public has only 150 days to file legal action against Caltrans, or Alternative #2 becomes the law. Furthermore, Caltrans only published this Final report to its own website and a few elected officials. No notice was given to residents or companies along I-5 or SR-56 within Torrey Pines or Carmel Valley. No one knows about this project!

Alternative #2 calls for 82 exceptions to design standards listed in the Highway Design Manual (HDM). If the project were brought up to HDM standards, an additional $541 million would be needed. Neither Torrey Pines nor Carmel Valley opposed something being done to help ease traffic congestion. Both communities chose Alternative #4, a less destructive alternative that supported a “flyover” from west to north and an upgraded Carmel Valley Road connection to SR-56.
Under the Caltrans project, Del Mar Heights Bridge would be torn down and a new multilane bridge with a connector ramp would be built, turning east at Pointe Del Mar homes 107 feet above I-5. Construction of the new bridge would take three years. Just imagine the congestion and impact on the Del Mar Fairgrounds traffic during the County Fair and racing season.

The health of the children attending the Del Mar Hills Academy is directly impacted by the connector ramp that will run within 57 feet of the Academy’s main building. The ramp will be six feet below the sound wall, exposing children playing on the basketball court and playing fields to toxic diesel fumes. Caltrans has stated they expect a 25% increase in truck traffic once the connector is finished.

Starting in 2004 and finishing on June 13, 2012, Caltrans’s Project Management team held 23 Steering Committee meetings with the Torrey Pines and Carmel Valley Planning Boards regarding the I-5/SR-56 Connector project. Hundreds of pages of public questions were submitted to Caltrans as part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). After release of the FEIR, Caltrans was cordially invited to explain at a Torrey Pines Community meeting on September 14 why Caltrans chose Alternative #2 as their “final preferred” alternative. Caltrans refused to attend, saying a meeting would be unproductive.

Your voices need to be heard by state officials and Councilmember Barbara Bry before it is too late.




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