El Camino Real widening, bridge replacement faces delays due to additional environmental review

A rendering of the new bridge over El Camino Real from the project's EIR.
(Karen Billing)

The timeline for the El Camino Real widening project has been pushed out further yet again as the city must recirculate its California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review documents on the bridge replacement.

At the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s May 25 meeting, the board approved the modification to the final environmental impact report, which was approved in 2017. Last year, construction on the road had been projected to begin in January.

“We get the unique opportunity of redoing our CEQA documentation, which for those of you familiar with the process know, it is not short,” said Jacob Randles, associate civil engineer city of San Diego.

The environmental review is expected to be completed in January 2024, with construction now targeting a start date in February 2025. Once the work begins, the three-year construction is anticipated to finish in February 2028.

Randles said during the permitting process, a design change made at the request of the stormwater department caused potential impacts to deviate, which required the addendum to capture the new impacted area.

Originally they had planned to use concrete for the stormwater basins and they were smaller, Randles said. The stormwater department wanted to switch out the concrete for an alternative material and make a larger basin for stormwater collection, which caused the footprint to widen in some areas and shrink in others.

A rendering of the widened El Camino Real.
(Screenshot by Karen Billing of rendering)

With the upgrade, the old El Camino Real road will be demolished and widened from two to four lanes from Via de la Valle to San Dieguito Road. The narrow and aging El Camino Real bridge that has been deemed functionally obsolete and structurally deficient will be replaced with a new crossing with both a bike lane and a protected sidewalk.

Both the road and bridge will be elevated out of the 100-year floodplain and the whole road will shift to the east. The re-aligned road will move the intersection of Via de la Valle to De la Valle Place, in between the two Polo Plaza buildings) with a new traffic signal.

There will also be two new traffic signals at the entrances to the Horse Park and the Surf Sports Park to improve access.

Currently El Camino Real has no bike lanes or sidewalks. With the improvements, the new road will feature a stamped concrete median, turn pockets, six feet sidewalks, landscaped parkways and bike lanes. A raised undercrossing under the new bridge will also accommodate access to the Coast to Crest Trail across the busy thoroughfare.

The EIR can be viewed online at sandiego.gov/ceqa/final

The realigned El Camino Real's new intersection with Via de la Valle would be at De La Valle Place.
(Karen Billing)