Friday, August 20, 2010
SAN DIEGO It was standing room only at a Solana Beach church Thursday. A town hall meeting was held to explain the possible impacts of an expansion to Interstate 5 in the North County.
Hundreds of people turned out for the town hall. Meeting moderators stressed that all opinions on the expansion were welcome. But it was clear most in the crowd would like to see the project stopped or at least modified. There are concerns about noise, congestion, air pollution and declining property values.
Norman Ratner is working with one of the groups trying to stop the project. He says miles of sound dampening walls along the freeway won’t give a good impression of San Diego.
“It’s going to be a tunnel effect,” he said. “This is what Caltrans said is the welcome to San Diego and all you’re going to see are 20 to 30 foot walls as you drive down the freeway coming in.”
Others also had concerns about the walls blocking views of the ocean. The crowd cheered when an attorney told them it’s possible to stop the project in court.
Caltrans representatives were invited to the meeting but declined to attend. I-5 Corridor Director Alan Kosup said this is the time to vet the project. But he says it’s not viable to completely forgo the expansion in favor of just building mass transit like some critics have suggested.
“It’s not one or the other. It’s not freeway or transit, it’s freeway and transit. And that’s because of where it is,” he said.
Kosup said bus rapid transit lanes and carpool lanes will be included in the expansion.
The project would cost between $3.5 and $4.5 billion and take 15 to 20 years to complete.