Caltrans I-5 Corridor Developers Address Lagoon Protection

Developers working on a project to widen the lanes of Interstate 5 through the North County say they have addressed a number of concerns about the lagoons raised by North County residents.

The Interstate 5 North Coast Corridor project involves a 30-mile stretch of highway from La Jolla Village Drive in San Diego to Vandegrift just north of Oceanside.

Caltrans plans to build four new lanes in the middle of the highway modeled after the Interstate 15 carpool lanes but with a smaller footprint because of the sensitivity of the coastal environment.

In the past, residents have voiced concerns over environmental damage that could occur to wildlife living in six coastal lagoons, 32 acres of wetlands and 74 acres of coastal sage.

A document released Friday by developers offered more information on lagoon health and resource enhancements after residents raised concerns last summer. Read document here

Caltrans have identified three ways to protect the areas by using longer bridges that allow for better lagoon quality, improving bike and pedestrian connectivity and offering ways to restore and create the lagoon habitat.

I-5 Corridor Director Allan Kosup with Caltrans said the goal of the $6.5 billion project is to leave the area better than when the project began.

“We’re going to give you more options,” Kosup said. “More rail service, if you’re a carpooler or if you’re in a bus, you’re going to have express service in the corridor. So the idea is to provide you lots of competitive options.”

Residents can expect the release of the public works plan developed with the California Coastal Commission in early 2013 The document will integrate all the bike lanes, pedestrian routes as well as changes to the highway.

Construction is slated to begin in 2014.

It appears "doing nothing" is out of the question, though, as the total number of vehicle trips along that stretch of I-5 is projected to reach 1 million by 2030.

A public meeting is planned for Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at the city of Encinitas Community Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, Encinitas 92024.

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