$700M I-5 North Coast Corridor Highway Project Underway
Work is underway on the $700M first phase of the I-5 North Coast Corridor, which is taking a multi-modal transportation approach that could serve as a model for all of California. The project involves 21 miles of the 40-year, $6B North Coast Corridor Program, a multi-agency effort to improve transportation along the coast. The project will widen freeway bridges; add more carpool lanes; build double-tracked railroad bridges; create 10 miles of new bike paths, multiple pedestrian walkways and crossings; and complete the restoration of the San Elijo Lagoon at Cardiff By The Sea, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.
While the project ultimately aims to improve traffic flow, construction is expected to worsen traffic congestion, until this phase is completed in 2021. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony at the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center in Cardiff, California Department of Transportation director Malcom Dougherty said his department will do the best it can to minimize the negative effects on traffic, business and pollution and asked the public to be patient, as “everyone will be better off once it is finished.”
Work has already begun on a new I-5 bridge across the San Elijo Lagoon (below) on the border of Solana Beach and Encinitas, and construction of the Batiquitos Lagoon bridge in Carlsbad is scheduled to start in mid-2017. Longer, wider bridges will improve the health of these lagoons by allowing tidal waters to flow more freely in and out, which prevents stagnation and makes the tidal waters more accessible to marine life.
New bike and pedestrian trails to and around the San Elijo Lagoon will improve public access and include a pedestrian under-crossing beneath the railroad bridge that will connect the east and west ends of the lagoon for the first time since the railroad was built more than 100 years ago.
Scheduled to begin in mid-2017 with completion in 2021, the $80M San Elijo Lagoon restoration project, which includes selective dredging and filling to remove the unnatural buildup of sediment in the lagoon, will restore a healthy environment for more of the 700 native plant and animal species, many of which are endangered. [SDUT]