El Camino Real wildlife undercrossing construction slated for early fall completion

The new wildlife undercrossing under El Camino Real is expected to be complete by September. Photo/Jon Clark

By Karen Billing

Construction on the new wildlife undercrossing under El Camino Real (just south of RSF and just north of Carmel Valley) is expected to be complete by September, according to Scott Robinson, public information officer for the city’s public works department. A dedication ceremony for the undercrossing’s completion is being considered, as it has been a project long fought for by the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board.

The city’s Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) subarea plan, which was adopted by the San Diego City Council in 1997, identified the need for an improved wildlife crossing in this area to connect Gonzales Canyon to the San Dieguito River Park.

“Road improvements on El Camino Real Road triggered the need for compliance with the MSCP subarea plan,” Robinson said. “The connectivity of large open space areas is a key component of maintaining habitat functions and values.”

The original undercrossing was a triple culvert, with three narrow and dark openings, “uninviting access to wildlife.” The new structure is a single span opening with an open grate in the middle that acts as a sunroof.

“These features provide a larger, lighted opening for wildlife under El Camino Real,” Robinson said.

The undercrossing work began on May 29 and is progressing on schedule. Alongside the construction is a 12-foot-high wooden wall. The wall is meant to be a sound barrier to minimize noise during the protected gnatcatcher bird’s breeding season.

The wall will be removed after the breeding season ends on Aug. 15.