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State Route 78 reopens after weeks of repairs

Traffic is now flowing on both sides of state Route 78 after nearly two months of closures. However, KPBS North County reporter Alexander Nguyen tells us more work is expected on the freeway.

After weeks of emergency work on State Route 78, Caltrans officials Monday announced all lanes on the North County highway would be open for the evening commute.

Caltrans crews discovered a depression in the surfacing of the highway, and all westbound lanes were closed on March 15.

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At least nine crews from local small business contractors worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week with some "putting their personal lives on hold to get the work done quickly," according to a statement from the California Department of Transportation.

All but one of the lanes in the westbound direction was opened on April 5 when work switched to the eastbound lanes. Digging continued, sometimes at depths of 60 feet, to uncover and replace nine damaged culverts.

The last westbound lane opened Monday at 11 a.m. and all eastbound lanes were reopened by the evening's commute.

During the closures, stores along SR-78 said they saw a noticeable slowdown in business. But for commuters, such as Eddie Carrillo, it was a major hassle, adding 30 minutes to his already long commute.

“I used the 5 every time. I work all the way to Del Mar, and I had to take (Highway 101) in order to get to my house," he said. "I live in Vista, and it's very bad.”

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Caltrans District 11 Chief Deputy Director Everett Townsend said he understands the frustration, but the work was necessary.

"We would like to thank the community, the cities of Oceanside and Vista, the traveling public and local businesses for their patience and understanding while we completed this emergency work project at a cost of more than $21 million," he said.

Some night closures and shoulder closures may be in place for the next two weeks while the final details of the project are completed, he said.

Caltrans is also doing more culvert rehabilitation work on SR-78 between Interstates 5 and 15, but there won't be any daytime closures affecting people's commutes.

The work schedule is subject to change due to weather, traffic incidents or other maintenance considerations.

For real-time traffic information visit quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.

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