By Steve Goetsch
Resident, Solana Beach
The long-awaited Caltrans Environmental Impact Report on the proposed expansion of I-5 is now out. Caltrans forecasts a future of total gridlock, angry motorists and plumes of dirty exhaust smoke UNLESS their $3 billion to $4 billion project is approved. If you wade through the 1,000 pages of the report, a different scenario emerges. The construction is to be carried out in three phases ending in 2050.
Can you imagine 40 years of highway construction in North County. The "auxiliary lane" construction project three years ago in Solana Beach sometimes backed up the morning commute all the way to Carlsbad. And the 18-month Lomas Santa Fe intersection project kept many of us awake all night long.
Some of the features people don't know about: four more lanes of traffic through the length of Solana Beach. A 12-foot-high, 3,435-foot-long soundwall on the west side of I-5 south of Lomas Santa Fe, with a somewhat smaller wall on the other side of the freeway. I thought this was a "scenic view corridor"? A park-and-ride lot at Manchester with two huge "flyovers" to get bus traffic into the car-pool lanes in the center of the monstrous 16-lane bridge.
SANDAG explicitly instructed Caltrans in their 2002 report, which requested this expansion, there was to be "no taking of private property." Instead, this report proposes condemning 50 to 112 homes and 10 to 13 businesses. I still cannot find out which homes will be "partially taken," but I'm sure some are in Solana Beach.
Caltrans asserts that the best way to reduce air pollution is to speed up traffic flow, on the ground that slowly moving traffic emits more pollution. If that is true, does increasing traffic by 50 percent mean less pollution? And Caltrans does NOT discuss the very dangerous "ultrafine particles" now implicated in heart and lung disease as well as breast cancer.
Finally, the Solana Beach Greenhouse Gas Inventory, as accepted by the City Council, estimates that 57 percent of all GHG emissions in Solana Beach comes from freeway traffic. How is Solana Beach going to comply with Assembly Bill 32 (signed into law in 2006) which requires a decrease in GHG if CalTrans plans to greatly increase traffic?
What do I want from Caltrans? Simple: I would like Caltrans and the state of California to enforce their own air and noise pollution and greenhouse gas laws, as presently written. I don't think we are in compliance in Solana Beach. There are worse things in my world than freeway congestion.