The Coast News Group
The new modernized double tracked rail bridge is now open in Cardiff-by-the-Sea featuring artistic letters on the support columns spelling out the word “Cardiff.” Courtesy photo
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Build NCC: How we are improving life in the North Coast Corridor

As another successful year of construction in the North Coast Corridor comes to an end, the Build NCC construction team has made significant progress that is already improving the lives of residents of the region.

Most noticeably this year, in early December, the Build NCC team began construction along Interstate 5 (I-5) to extend the HOV/carpool lane in each direction between Manchester Avenue in the City of Encinitas and Palomar Airport Road in the City of Carlsbad. Once completed in late 2021, the expansion of the HOV/carpool lane will bring congestion relief and additional commuting choices along the North Coast Corridor. In another highlight for the year, SANDAG introduced Build NCC’s new safety ambassadors – Mr. and Ms. K-Rail– to remind drivers to slow down and be alert in construction zones.

As apart of SANDAG and Caltrans’ efforts to enhance multimodal transportation options, construction continued to double track the rail line inCardiff-by-the-Sea, a community in the City of Encinitas. Double tracking will improve capacity and efficiency for both freight and passenger services. In September, rail crews opened a new modern, double tracked, concrete rail bridge over the San Elijo Lagoon, replacing the aging wooden rail bridge. The completed bridge represents a significant milestone and moves the LOSSAN rail line one step closer to a fully double tracked system in San Diego County.  

Environmental restoration and enhancement are key components to Build NCC improvements. Build NCC completed the beach sand replenishment efforts at Cardiff State Beach and received the nation’s Best Restored Beaches Award by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association over the summer. Concurrently, the City of Encinitas has led the Cardiff Beach Living Shoreline Project, constructing sand dunes that will aid in preventing coastal flooding. Additionally, restoration of the San Elijo Lagoon has been underway, with dredging in the central basin complete and new channels being dug in the east basin (east of the freeway). This restoration project is already improving tidal flow and restoring the lagoon’s biological diversity and ecological health.

The Build NCC team also worked hard to deliver community enhancement projects throughout the corridor in 2018. Construction on the protected bike and walking paths alongSanta Fe Drive and Encinitas Boulevard are close to reaching their respective halfway points and are expected to be complete within the next year. These improvements offer residents and travelers of the north coast corridor greater coastal access, safety, and improved choices for transit within the corridor.

Caltrans and SANDAG understand the immediate and future transportation needs of the corridor as well as the delicate balance necessary to preserve the character of the coastal community. This past year has seen significant progress in all Build NCC projects. Looking forward into 2019, the Build NCC project team will continue to enhance local community character, restore and protect the environment, improve coastal access, and address the growing transit needs of the North Coast Corridor.

About Build NCC

Build NCC is a collaborative effort between SANDAG, Caltrans, and The United States Department of Transportation. Build NCC is the first phase of construction in the cities of Solana Beach, Encinitas, and Carlsbad as part of the North Coast Corridor Program. Build NCC includes extending the existing HOV/carpool lane on I-5 in each direction from Lomas Santa Fe Drive to State Route 78, double tracking the rail line and replacing the highway bridge at the San Elijo Lagoon, replacing the rail bridges at the San Elijo Lagoon, restoring the San Elijo Lagoon, and constructing nearly 7 miles of new bike and pedestrian trails. Construction on Build NCC began in early 2017 and will be complete by 2022.