SR-56 bike path extension on track to begin construction next summer

The end of the 56 bike path.
(Karen Billing)

An expanded 5/56 bike path extension project is anticipated to start construction in June 2023, improving connectivity for cyclists commuting between Interstate 5 and Interstate 15 as well as stretching out a popular fitness corridor for walkers, runners and stroller striders.

The 56 bike path is a 10.5-mile multi-use pathway that runs along SR-56 between I-5 and I-15, with separate dirt and paved pathways. Trailheads are located on Carmel Country Road, Carmel Creek Road and El Camino Real. Where the trail comes through Carmel Valley, it has been named the Marvin Gerst Trail in honor of a longtime community volunteer.

Currently the pavement skids to a halt at a dirt trail approximately 200 feet away from I-5. The proposed Caltrans project would extend the bike path and go underneath I-5 where it will connect to the Old Sorrento Valley Road and the Coastal Rail Trail and I-5 North Coastal Trail.

This final connecting segment will improve the safety for those heading west toward the coast—commuters will no longer have to cross the busy streets of El Camino Real and Carmel Valley Road. By linking with Old Sorrento Valley Road, trail users can also gain access to the Torrey Pines Preserve.

The project has had a few delays, originally expected to begin last year.

“The project slated to begin in fall 2021 included, among other infrastructure improvements, only laying new asphalt over a small portion of the old Sorrento Valley Road bike path. It did not include the larger connection of the bike path,” said Steve Welborn, Caltrans public information officer. “In an effort to expand the project and deliver a more efficient product the planning department was able to procure funding to complete the connection for a larger I-5/SR-56 bike path.”

This extra work resulted in a delay of the project due to a third party utility relocation as well as a change in the environmental process, needing additional permits and involving Coastal Commission approval because of the wetlands and sensitive areas nearby.

“All is now on track for the project to begin construction next summer,” Welborn said