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Cars Win
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

Del Mar drivers headed north on I-5 will exit onto a bypass lane at Carmel Valley Road in order to exit at Del Mar Heights Rd Source: Caltrans I-5/SR56 Interchange Project Final
Environmental Impact Report.
Click to enlarge.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes has ruled in favor of Caltrans in two lawsuits filed by Del Mar Heights residents claiming that plans to build two direct connector flyovers at the I-5/SR56 interchange at Carmel Valley Rd had inadequate environmental review. The residents maintained the project was tacked on to the five-year-old Coastal Commission approval of the I-5 North Coast Corridor widening project currently under construction, without consideration of new impacts caused by additional lanes for the flyover connectors. Hayes ruled that CalTrans followed the rules even though the required CEQA documents, according to the two groups, were filed in Sacramento instead of San Diego County and with the wrong identifying number.

The flyovers will require four new bypass lanes in addition to the originally approved I-5 widening project. The additional lanes will significantly change the I-5/ Del Mar Heights Rd. and I/5 Carmel Valley Rd. intersections as well as make deep cuts for retaining walls, some as high as 45 ft with an additional 16 ft for sound barriers, on the western slopes. Vehicles entering and exiting the freeway between Del Mar Heights and Carmel Valley Rd. will use the new local bypass lanes. Del Mar drivers, for instance, will no longer have direct access to I-5 south from Del Mar Heights Rd. using instead a “bypass lane” diverting them to the southbound I-5 access traffic light at Carmel Valley Road. Required widening would also eliminate the heavily treed slopes below the Del Mar Hills Academy and homes off Portofino Circle, and the over 100-foot-high I-5 south to SR56 east flyover connector will be in the viewshed of several homes.

The two groups opposing the connector project are in discussions about a legal appeal of the decision. Once a formal judgment is issued they have 35 days to file a motion to appeal the decision to the 4th Appellate Court. A three to seven judge panel would consider the merits of the appeal. City Council has asked Caltrans to provide information at a future Council meeting.

Projected new local bypass to exit I-5 north at Del Mar Heights Rd I-5 just past Del Mar Heights Road. Top photo existing.
Bottom photo proposed. Source: Caltrans I-5/SR56 Interchange Project Final Environmental Impact Report.
Click to enlarge.



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