El Camino Real widening, new bridge to begin in 2021

San Diego City Council approved a site development permit for the widening of El Camino Real and the replacement of the existing aging, narrow bridge across the San Dieguito River at its Feb. 14 meeting.

District 1 Councilmember Barbara Bry quickly made the motion to approve the long-awaited project.

“The community is delighted, excited and ready,” Bry said.

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board unanimously approved the project in August 2016 and construction is scheduled to begin in 2021 and to be completed by 2023.

With the project, the road will be raised and moved to the east, widened to four lanes between San Dieguito Road and Via de la Valle. The current bridge, which has been deemed seismically deficient, will be demolished and replaced with a wider, 76-foot-wide bridge, more friendly for the cyclists that frequent the thoroughfare.

The eastern alignment was determined to be the environmentally superior alternative for the widening, offering minimum impacts to land use and the best long-term improvement for traffic conditions. As it is the environmentally superior alternative, the project would qualify for $15-$20 million in federal funding from the Federal Highway Administration.

The road will be 60 feet from curb to curb, with a total width of 104 feet, which includes a 22-foot parkway, bike lanes and sidewalks. The existing El Camino Real will stay as an access road to the existing businesses. For the new bridge, the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority is seeking grant funding to build a cantilever on the west side to allow for safe horse crossings.

Signals will be installed at the intersections of San Dieguito Road, at the Del Mar Horsepark entrance and at Via de la Valle, where the road will now line up with the existing De la Valle Place. An undercrossing will connect the Coast to Crest Trail where it runs through the valley.