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Overpass Overhaul
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

Above ground ramps (orange lines) would connect westbound SR-56 to northbound I-5 and southbound I-5 to eastbound SR-56.
Click to enlarge.

City Council is asking Caltrans to attend a future Council meeting to answer questions about the proposed I-5/SR-56 Direct Connectors project that would alter access to and from I-5 via Del Mar Heights Rd and impact nearby residential communities.

The project would reconfigure the Del Mar Heights Road Bridge to make room for the four extra lanes needed for access to the direct connectors. Both Del Mar and Carmel Valley drivers would need to use a new “by-pass” lane along I-5 that would provide access to southbound I-5 at Carmel Valley Road. Reportedly there will be no access to the eastbound SR-56 direct connector from Del Mar Heights Road.

Drivers traveling southbound on I-5 would exit via the SR-56
east ramp. Drivers exiting to Carmel Valley Road are
on the right using the local bypass from
Del Mar Heights Road.
Source: Interstate 5/State Route 56 Final Environmental Impact Report. Caltrans State Department of Transportation.
Click to enlarge.

Del Mar Villas and Point Del Mar, two Del Mar Heights neighborhoods just west of the Carmel Valley Rd./I-5 interchange, have hired attorneys to challenge the project’s eastbound flyover connector to SR-56 that rises to 107 feet above sea level at that location. And the Del Mar Union School District has submitted noise and pollution concerns to Caltrans after learning that access lanes would widen I-5 further west, toward the Elementary School’s main building on Mango Drive.
The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board, representing Del Mar Heights in the City of San Diego, is also asserting that a number of the project’s design details were not included in the 2012 Draft Environmental Report and have had insufficient community review. Finally, according to the Caltrans website the project is exempt from review by the California Coastal Commission because it is considered to be part of the I-5 North Coast Corridor widening project approved by the Commission in 2014.

The I-5 North Coast Corridor widening project is now in phase 2 of its implementation. Currently Caltrans is removing the I-5 hillsides in Encinitas in order to add more lanes. Phase 3 runs the two miles through Torrey Pines/Carmel Valley removing the hillside within its right-of-way and widening the bridge that crosses over the San Dieguito River. Phase 3 is expected to start by late 2020. However Caltrans Project Manager Arturo Jacobo told us that the I-5 widening project and the I-5/SR-56 Direct Connector construction will be coordinated to avoid tearing up one project to begin another.

Dennis Ridz, chair of the Torrey Pines Community, said the Board does not oppose the direct connector proposed on the east side of I-5 supporting west to north traffic from SR-56 to I-5 or rebuilding the Del Mar Heights Bridge to handle the new One Paseo traffic. But the Board is supporting a less impactful alternative on the west side, advocating for an approach to an I-5/SR-56 south to east connector that does less harm to the adjacent residential neighborhoods. According to Jacobo several homes just west of the interchange will see the south to east Connector from their homes.


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