Caltrans’ public meetings on I-5 widening start in Encinitas
Caltrans has several public open house meetings scheduled to collect feedback about the recently released 1,000-page draft environmental impact report on the Interstate 5 North Coast Corridor’s high occupancy vehicle (HOV)/managed lanes project.
The first meeting was held Tuesday in Encinitas.
The meeting lasted for three hours, and during that time a steady stream of people filed through each station of the open house.
Outside of the meeting, members of CAFÉ, Citizens Against Freeway Expansion, handed out flyers with the warning “LA is coming to North County” advertising their own town hall meeting in Solana Beach. The meeting will be held on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at Solana Presbyterian.
“Caltrans tried to bury a lot of visual, noise and air pollution impacts,” said Jack Hegenauer, a 40-year resident of Solana Beach. “They need to find a solution that doesn’t include just expanding the freeway indefinitely from side to side.”
Caltrans estimates that by 2030, commute times on the I-5 could increase from 39 minutes to 80 minutes if no improvements are made to the freeway. Their proposed solution is adding high occupancy vehicle (HOV) managed lanes, auxiliary lanes and possibly another general-purpose lane in each direction from La Jolla Village Drive to Harbor Drive in Oceanside.
Four alternatives were studied in the EIR in addition to a no-build option, which leaves the freeway in its current state of eight lanes across and two partial HOV lanes, one in each direction.
The alternative plans are:
- The” 8+4 buffer” alternative adds four managed lanes, separated from general purpose lanes by striping. This alternative adds 100 feet, 50 feet on both sides, and would require the acquisition of 10 businesses and 50 residential homes. 24 acres of coastal wetlands and 70 acres of coastal sage scrub would be impacted.
- “8 +4 barrier” alternative adds four managed lanes that are separated by a barrier wall. This extends the freeway 63 feet on both sides and would require the acquisition of 11 businesses and 104 residential homes. 29 acres of coastal wetlands and 73 acres of coastal sage scrub would be impacted.
- The “10+4” buffer alternative adds two general-purpose lanes between Del Mar Heights and SR-78 and four managed lanes separated by striping. The estimated $3.8 billion plan would require the acquisition of 10 businesses and 53 homes, impacting 27 acres of coastal wetlands and 73 acres of coastal sage scrub. This alternative would widen the freeway 122 feet, bringing it from 132 feet across to 254 feet across.
- The “10+4” barrier alternative also adds two general-purpose lanes and four managed lanes but separates the managed lanes with a wall barrier.
This plan would require the acquisition of 13 businesses and 112 homes and impact 32 acres of coastal wetlands and 74 acres of coastal sage scrub. The widest footprint of all the alternatives, it adds 75 feet on both sides of the freeway and more than doubles the total width from 132 feet to 282 feet.
All alternatives propose habitat restoration, improving coastal access and improved water quality of the lagoon environments. There will also be some streetscape improvements, including a landscape project on Ida Avenue in Solana Beach.
More opportunities for the public to learn about the project will be held at meetings on Aug. 17 at Carlsbad’s Faraday Center, followed by one at Skyline Elementary School on Aug. 24. Both are from 5 to 8 p.m.
Copies of the EIR are available at www.KeepSanDiego Moving.com as well as local library branches.
To view the EIR and to comment online, visit