By Karen Billing
The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board sent a letter to Caltrans in opposition to the proposed I-5 widening project, calling it a “sea of asphalt” that will change the character of the region entirely. The letter made the Nov. 22 comment deadline on the project, which proposes an expansion of 27 miles of I-5 from La Jolla to Oceanside to help alleviate traffic congestion. Alternatives range from adding four to six lanes, both managed and general-purpose lanes.
Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration will review and respond to comments and decide next year whether or not to go through with the project and, if so, which expansion option to choose.
Carmel Valley’s board joins the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Oceanside and the Torrey Pines Community Planning board and Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) in taking a public stance against the expansion.
The Carmel Valley board said the project is in conflict with all relevant transportation policies and land use plans in the region. The board believes that the draft EIR fails to address the impact on tourism, health and the wellbeing of the local populations—the residents living on the edge of the massive additions of lanes, walls, ramps and bridges.
“It appears the project would relegate the term ‘Coastal Corridor’ to the history books, leaving only a concrete canyon that could just as well be in the middle of Los Angeles as in coastal San Diego,” the letter reads.
The planning board also turned its attention toward the pedestrian bridge planned for the project, which would span over I-5 linking Del Mar Hills School to Lower Ridge Road near Solana Highlands School. The bridge is considered an “enhancement” of the I-5 expansion, allowing a “safe route from school for students living on opposite sides of the freeway.”
Carmel Valley’s letter points out that Del Mar Hills and Solana Highlands are in different school districts and said the multi-million dollar “bridge to nowhere” is a “foolish boondoggle.”
“The DEIR ascertains that the communities surrounding Del Mar Heights Road would benefit from this bridge as if this community enhancement would make the I-5 widening pill go down more easily,” the letter states. “This is not the case, there is no benefit because the communities do not rely on I-5 in order to access each other.”