The Coast News Group
Example of a mature Torrey Pine tree. Courtesy photo
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I-5 construction to begin vegetation removal, 1,500+ trees to be replanted

The Caltrans and SANDAG Build NCC team have reached a new, exciting milestone! Highway construction crews are preparing to switch construction operations from the highway median to the outside shoulders of Interstate 5 (I-5).

As part of this preparatory work, trees and vegetation will need to be removed along the east and west sides of the freeway, in order to accommodate continued Express Lanes construction.

However, through thoughtful design and careful construction planning, the project team are taking great care to minimize tree and vegetation removal along this critical coastal environment.

Slopes were designed to be steeper to reduce the overall project and construction footprint and grading plans were designed to accommodate freeway improvements and construction access only.

During the design process, large established trees within the project footprint were evaluated to determine if they could be incorporated into the final design plan.

Additionally, during construction, trees along the project limits are being re-evaluated by a Caltrans environmental specialist, the contractor, and the City of Encinitas arborist and are then marked for protection purposes, if deemed possible.

Please note, as safety is of the utmost importance to the Build NCC project team, trees alongside the construction area will be continuously monitored, and may be removed if they are deemed unstable. 

Rest assured that upon highway construction completion, Caltrans and SANDAG will be replanting over 1,500 new Torrey Pines and Coast Like Oaks, in addition to thousands of other native and non-invasive shrubs and groundcover. The new plantings will be irrigated with 100 percent recycled water from the local San Elijo Lagoon Joint Powers Authority. In fact, many planting efforts are already underway, as Caltrans and the contractor have identified slopes in their ultimate configuration that could begin receiving plants. All planted trees, shrubs, and seeded slopes will be maintained through a five-year plant establishment period where the contractor is responsible for maintaining the health of the trees and plants after construction is completed.

Residents, businesses and I-5 corridor travelers can expect to see vegetation removal operations over approximately the next six months.

For more information, please visit, email [email protected], or call 844-NCC-0050.

About Build NCC

Build NCC is a collaborative effort between the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), Caltrans, and the United States Department of Transportation.

The first phase of construction is in the cities of Solana Beach, Encinitas, and Carlsbad as part of the North Coast Corridor Program. Build NCC includes extending the existing 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 and rail bridges at the San Elijo Lagoon, restoring the San Elijo Lagoon, and constructing nearly seven miles of new bike and pedestrian trails. Construction on Build NCC began in early 2017 and will be complete by 2022.