Caltrans I-5/56 report lacks needed information, Torrey Hills board says

By Karen Billing

The Torrey Hills Community Planning Board voted to send a letter to Caltrans asking them to reissue its draft environmental impact report (DEIR) on the Interstate 5/SR-56 interchange project due to a lack of information. The group voted unanimously at its meeting on June 26, taking the same action the neighboring Torrey Pines Community Planning Board did earlier in the month.

Torrey Hills Chair Kathryn Burton said after looking through the thousands of pages in the report, she found it difficult to find specific information.

“It didn’t include any information about the height impacts of this $260 million flyover ramp,” Burton said. “Why are there no maps or drawings that reflect the project? In this massive document, they really neglected the elephant in the room.”

Patti Ashton, speaking on behalf of Torrey Pines Planning Board Chair Dennis Ridz, said their board came to the same conclusions, that the report appeared to be deceptive with the amount of information not included.

The board decided not to deal with its preferences or concerns with the build alternatives in the DEIR (the direct connector, auxiliary lane improvements, hybrid and hybrid with flyover) and instead pointed out inconsistencies in the report. The board encouraged Caltrans to get the document right so that the community can have meaningful input.

The comment period for the DEIR ends on July 17 and Caltrans expects to make its decision on the preferred alternative by the end of 2012. The final EIR would be released in late 2013 with project construction targeted for 2020-2030 if any build option is selected.

As the board’s letter aimed to point out deficiencies the DEIR, some board members wondered if the One Paseo development was included in the traffic studies. It was determined One Paseo does not have to because it is an unapproved project at this time. Board member Guy Ravad marveled that two enormous projects could be developed at the same time, without consideration of the other, and possibly receive approval simultaneously.