The Coast News Group

Encinitas, Carlsbad to get I-5 lane expansions later this month

REGION — Construction to add carpool lanes to Interstate 5 will begin later this month after officials held a ceremonious groundbreaking Nov. 2 in Carlsbad.

The Build North Coast Corridor Program through the San Diego Association of Governments is already underway with numerous projects, such as the addition of double tracks and a new platform at the Poinsettia Station in Carlsbad.

Local, state and federal officials including Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, left, and Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, third from right, celebrate the groundbreaking for the Interstate 5 widening project on Nov. 2 in Carlsbad. Photo by Steve Puterski

The groundbreaking marks a much-needed expansion of lanes to I-5 from Manchester Avenue in Encinitas through Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad, according to SANDAG Chairman Terry Sinnott. In addition, sound walls will also be installed in some locations.

The final stretch of the widening of I-5 will be from Palomar Airport Road to State Route 78 at the Oceanside border and is expected to commence in fall 2020. The total cost of Build NCC is estimated at $1.1 billion and all phases are expected to be completed by 2022.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear spoke about how the projects will benefit transportation and environmental assets.

“It’s a dynamic process,” Blakespear said of dozens of project planning meetings. “This is the best possible process to have a successful project.”

The project, Hall said, began in 1994 and after years of collaboration with various government entities, is finally moving forward. He said it will bring better access to the freeway allowing motorists to take advantage of carpool lanes for miles.

“I applaud my colleagues for championing collaboration,” Hall said.

In Encinitas, several projects are currently underway such as upgrading the railroad tracks, restoring the San Elijo Lagoon, and constructing about 10 miles of new bike and pedestrian trails. SANDAG recently finished replacing the 60-year-old wooden trestle railroad bridge with a double-track concrete structure for the railroad.

Another theme, though, was the reliance of Senate Bill 1, known as the Gas Tax, days before the Nov. 6 election. Sinnott and Laurie Berman, director of Caltrans, both mentioned the tax several times noting how $195 million of the total $846 million for the project has come from SB 1.

Other sources of revenue for the project were $494 million from federal sources, $204 million from the state ($195 million from SB 1) and $148 million from the TransNet tax.

SB 1 has been under fire from many for siphoning funds back into the state’s General Fund instead of all funds being directed to road repairs. A recall effort led by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio failed in the Nov. 6 election.

Regardless, Sinnott said the work to complete the full project will take about three years.

“This project is a model of what we want to be doing statewide,” Berman added. “None of the project would be possible without effective partnerships.”