The Coast News Group
At the Santa Fe Drive off-ramps in Encinitas, new wrong-way ramp signals with red warning lights. Courtesy photo
Marketplace NewsNews

Inside look at Build NCC safety infrastructure improvements to I-5

Driving along Interstate 5 (I-5), you may have seen Caltrans and SANDAG Build NCC construction crews hard at work installing new highway safety improvements.

Some of these features can be easily spotted, while others have been installed as part of a network of underground utility infrastructure within the reconstructed median, outside freeway shoulders, or beneath the existing I-5 travel lanes.

A few of these new additions include: overhead light fixtures at Intermediate Access Points (IAP), wrong-way ramp signage, and fiber optic cabling installed underneath the highway.

Just recently added near Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas and Poinsettia Lane in Carlsbad, new median light fixtures at IAPs will provide improved visibility for motorists, illuminating stretches of I-5 where motorists can safely enter and exit the new Carpool/HOV Lanes.

In addition, wrong-way ramp signals have been installed at both northbound and southbound off-ramps at Santa Fe Drive. These signals include red warning lights. As the project progresses, similar signals will be installed at on-and-off ramps along I-5 between Birmingham Drive in Encinitas and Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad.

Features not as apparent include fiber optic cable lines installed under the new Carpool/HOV Lanes. These cables will support future electronic overhead signage and improve overall freeway operations, traffic flows, and enhance motorist safety and mobility along I-5.

To ensure safety for both motorists and highway crews during I-5 construction, drivers are reminded to “Drive 55 on the 5” in the Build NCC construction zone and that traffic fines are doubled in construction zones. The SANDAG operated Motorist Aid service for roadside assistance can be easily accessed by dialing 5-1-1 anywhere in San Diego County.

Additionally, the “Move Over” law requires all drivers to move over a lane or, if they are unable to do that safely, slow down when they see amber flashing lights on Caltrans vehicles, law enforcement and emergency vehicles, and tow trucks.

About Build NCC

Build NCC is a collaborative effort between Caltrans, SANDAG, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The first phase of construction began in the cities of Solana Beach, Encinitas, and Carlsbad as part of the North Coast Corridor Program.

Build NCC includes extending the HOV lanes on I-5 in each direction from Lomas Santa Fe Drive to State Route 78, double tracking the rail line at the San Elijo Lagoon, 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 is expected to be completed by 2022.

To learn more about Build NCC, visit