A community planning leader has given a positive reception to one of the plans given by CALTRANS for the Interstate 5 and State Route 56 connector.
The plans aim to alleviate traffic congestion on the westbound SR-56 by building a ramp to I-5 North.
“Northbound I-5 coming from the westbound 56, we’re fine with that. That’s only 38 ft. high. There are office buildings over there. Other than taking parking, we have no problem,” said Dennis Ridz, chairman of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board.
Currently, drivers going taking that route must exit the highway and go through a series of stoplights before getting back on the freeway. It’s the same process for drivers going the opposite direction.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released Friday presented a hybrid option, allowing a flyover to get to the northbound interstate 5, but only slight surface street improvement from the 5-south to 56-east.
“We would rather see some kind of a hybrid upgrade to Carmel Valley Road. Probably that could be done,” said Ridz.
CALTRANS said creating connectors in one only direction is not a traditional model of construction.
“It’s not preferred but if there’s a significant impact on the environment, the government will consider the idea,” said Alan Kossup, the I-5 Corridor Director with CALTRANS.
Among the other project options includes a “no build” plan, which leaves the highways in their existing state. “I do agree the no-build doesn’t make sense. We need to move ahead,” said Ridz.
Ridz remained opposed to the proposed 70 foot flyover which would provide a non-stop journey for those driving South on I-5 heading to SR-56 east. Besides the massive structure, residents would oppose a wall to be constructed to accommodate the ramp.
“It would mean going 60 ft. closer to the homes, and creating a massive sound wall. Even CALTRANS will admit that that's sort of claustrophobic,” he said.
Carmel Valley Planning Board Member Anne Harvey would not comment on the report. She said she wants more information from CALTRANS regarding the impact of the SR-56 widening project.
CALTRANS said a final decision on the project will be made by the end of the year and construction would likely begin in 2020 in conjunction with the North Coast Corridor project.
Ridz said CALTRANS failed to provide explanations on how the two projects would coexist.
The project could cost between $95 to $270 million, depending on which plan is chosen.
Money from the project comes from Transnet, the existing transportation fund created by tax dollars. CALTRANS said money has been committed to the project through 2040.