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Nine miles of HOV lanes open on I-5 south in North County

Nine new miles of carpool lanes are open for southbound cars on Interstate 5 in North County. The new lanes complement recently opened northbound HOV lanes in the area.

There are new HOV lanes on a nine-mile stretch of southbound Interstate 5, running from Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad to Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach.

These new lanes aim to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions on the highway, while providing more travel options, according to Caltrans North Coast Corridor Director Allan Kosup.

“Everyone gets a benefit. Even folks in the general purpose lanes see faster times,” he said.

Jacob Aere
A truck towing an RV drives onto the onramp for the I-5 south at the Palomar Airport Road exit, March 23, 2022.

Kosup added that the new southbound lane will complement the recent northbound carpool addition on the I-5 that opened to the public on February 15 of this year.

“On the northbound lanes when we opened them a month ago, we were seeing upwards of five minute time savings over those nine miles compared to a few weeks earlier,” he said.

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The nine new miles of carpool lanes will connect with 12 existing miles of HOV lanes to the south, according to Kosup. He expects similar time savings on the new southbound lanes.

“This project is funded by state, federal and regional so the old half-cent sales tax went to a portion of this project as well as the gas tax increase that occurred in California a few years ago,” Kosup said.

Jacob Aere
Cars drive on the newly opened I-5 HOV lanes at the Palomar Airport Road exit, March 23, 2022.

RELATED: Construction begins on I-5 carpool lanes from Carlsbad to SR-78

In 2023, four additional miles of Carpool Lanes are planned to be opened from Palomar Airport Road to State Route 78 in south Oceanside, completing 13 new miles of HOV Lanes on the I-5.