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Delays Ahead: Construction Begins Soon Along I-5 In North County

Photo credit: SANDAG

An artist's rendering shows Interstate 5 with carpool lanes and pedestrian walkways across the Batiquitos Lagoon, December 2016.

CALTRANS is giving drivers notice that major construction work is due to begin next month on widening Interstate 5.

The California Department of Transportation is giving drivers notice that major construction work is due to begin next month on widening Interstate 5.

After years of public input on the North Coast Corridor, Caltrans decided to add one carpool lane in each direction on I-5 — and to not add four extra lanes.

The plan is to add 14 miles of car pool lanes in the next five years. The road work will cost $480 million, part of a larger $700 million construction project that includes improvements to the rail line, bike lanes and environmental mitigation.

The money comes from a combination of federal, state and local sources, including the half cent “Transnet” sales tax voters approved in 2004.

Photo credit: SANDAG

Artists rendering of the new wider bridge for Interstate 5 over the San Elijo lagoon in Encinitas. It will carry a new car pool lane in each direction. Wider column spacing allows for easier tidal flows. Construction begins 2017.

Caltrans spokesman Steve Schultz said the road work will begin at Lomas Santa Fe Drive, where existing carpool lanes currently end, and will continue north to state Route 78 in Oceanside.

“This is going to be done in phases, so you’ll never have that full stretch of Interstate 5 under construction at one time,” he said. “But you will have significant sections of it on a phased basis. So once one section is finished, work will then move on to the next section going north.”

Schulz said the work will get under way the first week of January.

“One thing that’s important to point out is no freeway lanes will be closed during commute times," he said. “We realize that that would be a tremendous inconvenience."

Photo credit: BuildNCC : SANDAG/CALTRANS

Time Line of construction on the North Coast Corridor project, Dec 016

However, while lanes may not be closed, Schulz said barriers and cone zones may result in delays and slowing traffic, especially on the bridges that cross two north county coastal lagoons, the San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas and the Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad.

The first phase includes rebuilding the bridge over the San Elijo Lagoon to allow for the extra lanes and better tidal flow in the lagoon.

Schultz said crews will work at night when necessary and will try to minimize light and noise impacts to neighboring communities and the coastal habitat.

He said some trees will be removed in the course of construction, but they will be replaced with as many, if not more, trees before the project is done.

Ten miles of sound walls will also go up along I-5 from Encinitas to Carlsbad.

The current plan is for carpool lanes to reach SR-78 by 2021.

For updates on the construction, go to Keepsandiegomoving.com/BuildNCC; or call 844-NCC-0050 , or text BuildNCC to 313131

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