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Opponents Of I-5 Expansion Proposal Come Out In Force

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San Diego County residents packed a hearing in Solana Beach Monday to comment on a plan to expand Interstate-5 between San Diego and Oceanside. Most people were against the plan.

San Diego County residents packed a hearing in Solana Beach Monday to comment on a plan to expand Interstate-5 between San Diego and Oceanside. Most people were against the plan.

It was a lively and at times, boisterous crowd.

Most spoke against a California Department of Transportation proposal to expand a 27-mile stretch of I-5 by adding more HOV lanes and access ramps.

Caltrans has proposed four alternatives to reduce congestion on the heavily traveled corridor.

There is also a "no build" option which many people favored.

"We clearly should not be spending billions of dollars for a project that will temporarily relieve congestion," said Elizabeth Rudee of San Diego.

Other speakers said mass transit and smart growth are a better alternative to expanding the freeway.

Representatives from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Associated General Contractors of San Diego were among those speaking in favor of the expansion.

Allan Kosup with Caltrans said if I-5 is not expanded, severe traffic congestion over the next 20 years will hurt the region's economic health.

Kosup said travel times between San Diego and Oceanside along I-5 would nearly double by 2030 without expansion.

The comment period for the project's draft environmental review ends November 22.

Kossup said the approval process for the proposed I-5 expansion will take up to two years.

He said several agencies, including the California Coastal Commission, would have to OK the project.

Kosup said if the project is approved, the cost is between $3.4 billion and $4.5 billion depending on which of the four alternatives are chosen.

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