By Karen Billing
About a year after flooding was discovered on the Carmel Mountain Road on-ramp to Interstate 5, repair work will finally begin around Oct. 10. Dubbed “Torrey Hills Lake” by frustrated local residents, the ramp started flooding during the last rainy season and hasn’t subsided since — a pool of water has remained on the outside lane most of the year due to an underground pipe failure.
While the Torrey Hills community was told the work would begin this summer and then in September, October is now the target date.
“It’s quite an amazing little arduous task to figure this one out, but we’ve got it done, and got it done right despite some delays from traffic planning, from Caltrans,” said Bill Harris, spokesperson for the city of San Diego’s transportation and storm water department.
Brad Fagan, vice chair of the Torrey Hills Community Planning Board and president of the Torrey Hills Master Association, said the October start date was “unacceptable.” He lamented that the city received emergency funding for December 2010 flooding in February and that the city could have gotten permits from Caltrans months ago.
“I don’t think the construction will start in October but I hope it does. I don’t understand how the project could be ‘ardous’ because it is an inside job with emergency funds, funds that are apparently there already. It’s not a question of how much a permit costs, they’ve got it,” Fagan said. “I just think they put it on a shelf and forgot about us. I know they’re busy doing other projects but do any other projects impact a single community as much as this does?”
Harris said that from the tentative Oct. 10 start date, the project could take 60 days to complete but hopefully will be done much sooner.
“We should be able to keep traffic flowing throughout the course of the construction and we’ll have plenty of signage up there,” Harris said.
Fagan said he has some concerns about the schedule moving into the rainy season, in that construction and flooding might be occurring at the same time.
Fagan said Caltrans used to come on occasion to pump out the water but that hasn’t been done in awhile. Last week a portion of one of the three lanes was underwater, but Fagan said there’s been times this spring and summer when two lanes were underwater with only the carpool lane open. Any amount of runoff causes the crushed drain to back up.
“It really needs to be called what it is and it’s a danger,” Fagan said.
He said locals driving at daytime may be able to avoid the pool of water but a tourist or someone unfamiliar with the issue driving at 11 p.m. could drive right into it.