Group calls for change to freeway plans

The Interstate 5/Highway 56 steering committee process may be coming to a close next week as Caltrans prepares its Environmental Impact Report. But issues surrounding the interchange project continue to heat up. Representatives from Pacific Highlands Ranch are calling to get disconnected from the 5/56 connector project so they might be able to grow as a community.

Pacific Highlands Ranch resident Karen Dubey came before the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board this month to request that they look into changing the language of Proposition M. Prop M was approved in 1998 and limits the amount of development in PHR prior to the connector's completion.

"Our community is not going to be able to move forward," Dubey said. "I don't see us getting any schools, parks or shopping."

Dubey said PHR residents bought their homes under the guise of moving into a "walking community," close to grocery stores, a library and parks.

She says the dirt lots with faded signs will stay that way until the connectors are built, which could be 2013 or beyond.

Dubey's effort has drawn support from neighbors to the west in Torrey Pines, who have long fought the necessity of the 5/56 connectors and what a proposed 70-foot flyover linking 5-South to 56-East would do to their community.

"Proposition M is totally flawed, it doesn't meet the requirements of today's conditions," said Bob Davis, former Torrey Pines Planning Board chair.

Current chair Dennis Ridz, echoed his sentiments.

"I have no problems with Pacific Highlands Ranch. Our problem is the way Proposition M is structured and the way Caltrans is pushing this project," Ridz said.

With the direct connectors linking 5 and 56, Ridz said Torrey Pines neighborhoods such as Portofino and Point Del Mar will be destroyed.

"Why have such a severe impact on one area to build another area?" Ridz asked.

Just last year, San Diego City Councilman Scott Peters attempted to change the language of Prop M. Torrey Pines planning board supported it but Carmel Valley Community Planning Board did not, causing Peters to can the effort.

The 5/56 steering committee, made up of Caltrans representatives and residents, will wrap up their meeting schedule on Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Carmel Valley Library. At their last meeting, they will show visual simulations of the alternatives to the direct connector proposal.

The draft Environmental Impact Report on the 5/56 project, expected to be one of the longest in the state's history, is due out in fall of 2010. But coming in January is the EIR to widen Interstate 5, another project that Ridz opposes.

In response, the planning group formed a committee called PLAGUE, Prevent Los Angeles Gridlock Usurping Environment. PLAGUE takes aim at the environmental damage the widening the freeway will do to the 30 miles between La Jolla and Oceanside, and say it will discourage the development of alternative public transit options.

Ridz said it would have a huge impact on the whole region and hopes to keep the public informed and active around the issue.

   
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