A major step in a 40-year plan to widen Interstate 5 in North County, among other developments, was approved on Wednesday.
The California Coastal Commission unanimously signed off on the plan, which would widen I-5 to include four new express lanes and provide a series of rail, public transit, bicyclist and pedestrian improvements between La Jolla and Oceanside.
Four lanes designed for car pools, buses and toll-paying solo drivers would be built along the middle of the freeway. Two conventional lanes would also be added.
The project was estimated to cost $6.5 billion to be funded through a combination of federal, state, and local funds.
Environmental groups had expressed concerns about the impact on wildlife living in six coastal lagoons, 32 acres of wetlands and 74 acres of coastal sage. Developers have since said they’ve addressed these concerns.
Now that planners have received approval from the CCC, a carpool lane from Manchester to Birmingham will begin construction next year.
That will be the first phase of an 11-mile HOV extension from Manchester to State Route 78.
Images: I-5 Corridor Expansion Plans for North Coast
Images shared by the North Coast Corridor project shows the existing conditions and an artist's concept on what the completed project will look like.