One Paseo, the Trojan horse and the ‘worst traffic’ in San Diego

When I noticed a recent ad in your paper touting One Paseo as “The gift that keeps on giving…For the next 30 years,” I could not help but think of the mythological story of the Trojan Horse. The Greeks supposedly built a huge hollow horse filled with Greek soldiers and delivered it outside the gates of Troy. Having been tricked into thinking the horse was a gift to the city, the citizens of Troy brought the horse inside the gates of the city — only to be greatly surprised when the soldiers emerged at night to open the gates to the awaiting Greek army.

I’ve heard people say with resignation that “traffic in Carmel Valley is only going to get worse anyway, so what’s the big deal about One Paseo’s traffic?” Well, it is a big deal if it creates one of the worst traffic situations in San Diego.

One only needs to look at the One Paseo traffic study, which projects that after the proposed One Paseo is completed in 2016, traffic at Del Mar Heights Rd. would be 65,300 trips per day at the I-5 intersection where its capacity is 60,000 trips per day.

To understand how this traffic compares with other heavily impacted freeway intersections in San Diego, I looked at the SANDAG web site for the most recent (2010) estimates of traffic volumes at I-5, I-805, and I-15 intersections with main arterial roads. Amazingly, I found only six intersections with more than 60,000 daily trips, and only Mira Mesa Blvd. at I-15 (with 11 lanes vs. six lanes for Del Mar Heights Rd.) had more traffic than the projection for Del Mar Heights Rd. at I-5 if One Paseo were completed.

The traffic study’s projection for 2030 assumes traffic volumes taken from the I-5/ SR-56 Connector traffic study, but selects only the most optimistic two-connector scenario. Yet that other study clearly identifies the much worse traffic that is expected to be in place if the connectors are


constructed. The One Paseo traffic study somehow fails to mention that, from the time the proposed One Paseo is completed in 2016, traffic will get progressively worse until such time as two new connectors are completed for I-5 and SR-56 — completion is projected in SANDAG’s latest Regional Transportation Plan by 2030. The projected interim traffic would reach as high as 71,400 trips per day, or slightly less than Mira Mesa Blvd. at I-15 in 2010, but with far fewer lanes to carry the traffic.

If One Paseo gets built at the only increased size and traffic-generating alternatives the developer appears willing to consider “acceptable,” Carmel Valley will gain the dubious distinction of having one of the worst, if not the worst, performing freeway interchange in San Diego.

Now that is a “gift” that keeps on giving.

I sincerely hope that Carmel Valley and nearby residents learn a lesson from the Trojan Horse, and not be fooled into not thinking about what troublesome traffic consequences might occur if One Paseo gets approved.

John Dean

Carmel Valley resident of 44 years and former Chair of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board