CARLSBAD — Major concerns regarding noise, pollution and property acquisition prevailed at Caltrans’ third I-5 expansion public hearing in Carlsbad on Aug. 17.
Area residents packed the Faraday Center, 1635 Faraday Avenue, to voice their questions and concerns about the project and the draft environmental impact report. Public comment will be used to finalize the project proposal in the coming months.
“We’ve had good attendance at the meetings, which shows that people are interested,” said Caltrans’ I-5 Corridor Director Allan Kosup. “It could take 18 to 24 months before we release the final environmental impact report.”
Caltrans has proposed four alternative construction projects and one no-build option for the I-5 corridor from La Jolla to Oceanside. These alternatives include four “managed lanes” for carpools, buffers or concrete barriers and optional general-purpose lanes.
“We studied all of the four alternatives to the same level of detail,” project manager Arturo Jacobo said. “There’s trade-offs with each one.”
Two areas along I-5 in Carlsbad — west of Carlsbad Village Drive and south of Las Flores Drive — could experience partial and full land acquisitions depending on the number of lanes added. Local businesses, homes and apartment buildings would be affected.
“However the less impact that it makes, the less of a difference it will make in easing traffic,” Jacobo said.
Although most residents are in favor of alleviating traffic in the area, they support alternative transportation options instead of widening the highway. Many fear that adding to the number of lanes would create an increase in drivers on the road and pollution.
“Historically, all they do in California is expand the freeways and it’s never enough,” said Carlsbad resident Mary LeBlanc, who supports more public transportation options. “This is not the answer.”
Caltrans representatives have said that their proposed designs for the I-5 corridor would offer more reliable rapid transit in the area in the designated “managed lanes.” The project is modeled after the new lanes on I-15, which has some residents worried.
“I drove I-15 last Friday and it was so confusing — they need to take a fresh approach,” said Richard Courtney of Carlsbad, who would also like to see some money go toward the area’s railways.
Residents will have two more opportunities to provide public comment before Caltrans launches its final environmental impact report review. Meetings will be held on Aug. 24 in Solana Beach and in Oceanside on Sept. 9.
To find out more about the proposed I-5 expansion project and the draft environmental impact report, visit www.keepsandiegomoving.com and select “I-5 Corridor.”