The Coast News Group
Expect to see progress in 2021 on I-5 Carpool/HOV Lanes in Encinitas and Carlsbad. Courtesy photo
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North Coast Corridor Program: Reflection and anticipation for 40-year vision

The North Coast Corridor (NCC) program jointly operated by SANDAG and Caltrans is a balanced set of transportation, environmental, and coastal access projects to improve the quality of life for residents, create a stronger local and regional economy for the future, and enhance the north San Diego County coastal environment.

The $6 billion, 40-year vision is an implementation blueprint for developing and building projects as part of a holistic and connected system of mobility facilities. These efforts align with SANDAG’s vision for the 2021 Regional Plan, which reimagines how people and goods could move throughout the region in the 21st century, fundamentally shaped by five key strategies for mobility, collectively known as the 5 Big Moves—Complete Corridors, Transit Leap, Mobility Hubs, Flexible Fleets, and the Next OS.

The successful NCC program has been advancing critical projects along San Diego’s north-south coastal corridor since its landmark, unanimous adoption by the California Coastal Commission in 2014.

Nearly $1.5 billion in NCC projects have already been delivered or are currently under construction in the North Coast Corridor. These projects include coastal rail line improvements – such as double tracking, replacing bridges, and upgrading stations – Interstate 5 (I-5) highway improvements, including interchange and operational improvements in La Jolla and Carpool/HOV Lane construction – active transportation improvements – such as closing gaps in our coastal bike network and building new paths to connect communities – and preserving our environment – by protecting, restoring, and enhancing several of our six critical coastal lagoons.

In 2020 alone, as part of the $118 million San Elijo Lagoon Restoration project, Caltrans, SANDAG, and Nature Collective achieved significant restoration work in the San Elijo Lagoon and opened two pedestrian bridges to create a new trail connection that extends southwest from the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center to a new rail undercrossing and Harbaugh Seaside Trails in Solana Beach. Caltrans and SANDAG also completed new sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes at two I-5 undercrossings in Encinitas.

Rail line improvements are a critical NCC component. SANDAG and North County Transit District (NCTD) are leading efforts to build more double track, construct new rail stations, and stabilize the coastal bluffs in the City of Del Mar. The fourth phase in a series of bluff stabilization efforts in Del Mar was completed in early January 2021. The fifth phase is scheduled to begin in 2022 and will address additional seismic and critical stabilization needs.

On December 8, 2020, the California Transportation Committee (CTC) announced $106 million to fund trade corridor enhancement along the LOSSAN rail line.

These funds will go directly to improving the San Diego section of the 351-mile LOSSAN coastal rail corridor. The El Portal rail line undercrossing project broke ground in December 2020 and will be complete in 2022.

In spring 2021, NCTD will roll five new, state of the art Siemens locomotives into COASTER service and several renovated COASTER passenger cars. Another four locomotives are anticipated to go into service by summer 2023, replacing an aging fleet and positioning NCTD to be able to nearly double COASTER service. SANDAG leveraged funds to purchase two of the new locomotives and 10 new passenger cars in support of NCTD’s commitment to increasing service reliability and ridership experience. Additionally, all existing 28 COASTER passenger cars will also be overhauled within the next five years – receiving new exterior paint, new carpet and flooring, new seating upholstery, LED overhead lighting and USB charging ports at select seats. The service roll out of the first locomotives and COASTER cars are a critical step towards making travel easy, reliable, and inviting for riders.

Expect to see progress in 2021 on I-5 Carpool/HOV Lanes in Encinitas and Carlsbad, new bicycle and pedestrian paths taking shape as part of the North Coast Bike Trail and San Elijo Lagoon trail network, and first steps toward developing the Manchester Avenue Park & Ride/Multi-Use Facility.

For a full list of completed projects, projects under construction, or projects under development, please visit, email [email protected], or call 844-NCC-0050.