I-5 widening, extensive North County coastal transportation plan approved
The California Coastal Commission, meeting at the Catamaran Resort in Pacific Beach all this week, has approved, without a dissenting vote, a 6.5 billion dollar, large-scale plan to improve and expand transportation in the North County coastal area of San Diego County. The project includes proposals to meet the needs of the growing population to the year 2054.
The far-reaching proposal is a joint venture of SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) and Caltrans. It consists of both improving existing infrastructure and building new transportation assets in the areas of highways (I-5), public transit, pedestrian paths, bicycle right-0f-ways, and rail. The particular design being worked on this week covers a region of the Pacific Coast from Oceanside south to La Jolla of approximately 25 miles.
Several environmental groups had opposed the plan. The main objections were that out-of-date information in the impact report from 2010 had led to incorrect or obsolete assumptions concerning future transportation needs in the region. In addition, the organization stated that too much focus had been given to expanding the 5 freeway, to the detriment of alternate and public transportation. Although a concerted effort was mounted in oppostion, the proposal was unanimously adopted.
While I-5 will be widened in both the regular lanes and with the addition of 4 carpool lanes, the commission related how the plan includes a multitude of alternative transportation parts. Some of these are mitigation work to improve and restore coastal resources, new hiking trails totaling 7 miles of walkways, and a bicycle path the entire length of the 25+ mile coastline.
Standing in favor of the project were the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, UCSD, CSUSM and Legoland. Local politicians who gave support to the now-approved proposal include Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, a Republican representing Oceanside; Senator Joel Anderson, a Republican from Alpine; and Senator Ben Hueso, a Democrat from San Diego.