Archives: Current Issues

I-5 Expansion
Please note that some of the entries on this page were carried over from 2010.


Governor signs Kehoe amended I-5 expansion bill 

posted 10/12/11

Governor brown has signed the I-5 expansion bill SB468 originated by Senator Kehoe and amended to include only the 27 mile North Coastal Corridor.

  • It requires public transit improvements to be made as part of the 40 year construction project.
  • It limits expansion to two lanes in each direction.
  • It will require the taking of about 10 properties instead of 421 in the original Caltrans plan.
  • It requires railroad and bridge work to take place concurrently over the six coastal lagoons along the route mitigating environmental impacts.

This is partly the result of wide community interest and attendance at Caltrans meetings and is the plan backed by SANDAG and the affected cities.  It will provide a blue print for future highway construction.

Direct Access Ramp to Fairgrounds

posted 09/09/11

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the I-5 expansion identified, but did not specify, potential traffic impacts from proposed Flower Hill Promenade and Fairgrounds projects.

A Direct Access Ramp (DAR) to serve the Fairgrounds would feed into a proposed 5 or 6 story parking garage, on the east lot, in the flood plain west of I-5.

Local architect Bill Lewis and associates have designed an alternate plan . Both plans would include bridges or flyovers to cross the freeway adding to the footprint of the I-5 build-out. The Del Mar City Council has suggested that CALTRANS/SANDAG should reconsider the DAR for handling fairgrounds traffic. It is likely that the Via de la Valle interchange will have to be rebuilt.

The challenge is to understand the impacts of all the potential design elements.  The  I-5 corridor across the San Dieguito River is likely to be 39 feet wider on both sides without a DAR.  So what would the DAR add? It will include bridges with feeder ramps linked to a parking structure, etc.  It will impact the newly restored lagoon and wetlands. It will generate more noise and traffic. It will not be aesthetically pleasing.

Obviously transportation alternatives must be considered. Careful presentation of alternatives, with accurate visual depictions of all elements and cost estimates, needs to be presented to the surrounding communities in the near term.

posted 07/11/11

In our estimation CALTRANS has picked the best option for expansion of I-5 across the San Dieguito Lagoon. It will add one extra carpool lane in each direction. This is least intrusive and will result in 12 through lanes. Presently there are two extra auxiliary lanes. Only final design of the whole project will show if these two lanes are maintained. Paint striping will replace the concrete barrier option for delineating the express lanes.

CALTRANS has received 5000 comments from the public, impacted agencies and cities and has hosted public meetings which have influenced the choice. 

CALTRANS choice follows the recommendations of Senate Bill 468 sponsored by Senator Kehoe and is compatible with local communities’ suggestions.

The I-5 expansion is part of a larger project including train double tracking along the coastal corridor , lagoon restoration, and the addition of bike and pedestrian paths. Details of the 40 year, $6 billion project have still to be worked out and final Coastal Commission approval must be sought after further public meetings.

<<I-5 expansion: San Diego City Council action
posted 06/29/11

The San Diego City Council voted 5-3 to urge SANDAG to adopt a policy which prioritizes mass transit and sustainable transportation projects over highway expansion in its county transportation plan.

This direction was dropped from Senator Kehoe's I-5 expansion bill, SB468, which is currently making its way through the State legislature. It did retain a plan to constrain the number of lanes to 12 in the La Jolla to Oceanside corridor and to pay special attention to the impacts on coastal lagoons.

<<Kehoe Bill passes the Senate
posted 06/17/11

California Senate Bill 468 carried by Senator Kehoe has passed the Senate (24-15) on June 1, 2011 and now heads for the Assembly and the Governor's signature.

It requires transit in the I-5 corridor to be improved concurrently with any highway expansion. 

It improves Coaster and Amtrak services and also requires special attention to preserve the six coastal lagoons in the corridor. 

It limits expansion in the La Jolla to Oceanside section to two managed lanes in each direction which makes a total of 12 lanes . There is a possibility for tolls in the area thereby raising funds for public transportation.

<<Senate Bill 468: I-5 expansion

posted 05/26/11

State Senator Kehoe has revised Senate Bill 468.  The bill now only affects the expansion of Interstate I-5  in San Diego County. It limits this to 12 lanes ( 8 plus 4 with buffer option) instead of the 14 lanes ( 10 plus 4 with barriers alternatives)  favored by CALTRANS. The bill would permit SANDAG to go ahead and expand immediately with the "transit first" requirement removed. It would provide some protection for wetlands and improve air quality.

< FSDRV/SANDAG has spoken

posted 12/19/10

SANDAG endorsed a 110 billion Regional Transportation Plan for the next 40 years that includes the expansion of I-5 through North County with a potential widening to 14 lanes ( a mix of 10 general use and 4 managed lanes.). Some home owners whose houses were going to be condemned testified against the scale of the project to no avail.
The full SANDAG board approved the plan with 3 votes against: Lesa Heebner of Solana Beach, Carl Hilliard of Del Mar and Art Madrid of La Mesa.

What happens next?

During the next couple of months, SANDAG's planners and engineers will turn the document into the formal regional plan, with more detailed information on when projects would begin and how much will be spent.
That with the final Environmental Impact Report will be the subject of public hearings in April.

summary by Jacqueline Winterer of UT article

< Letter from FSDRV in response to the I-5 expansion EIR

posted 11/30/10

The Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley have reviewed the Draft EIR (DEIR) for the I-5 North Coast Corridor Project and respectfully submit our comments. The Friends was established in l986 as an incorporated volunteer citizens group to advocate for the preservation of the San Dieguito River Valley and has been involved since that time in providing community input. We are also a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the San Dieguito River Park and support the River Park Concept Plan approved by the City of San Diego in 1994 and updated in 2004.  We would like to draw your attention to the Plan’s stated special design considerations for the area of the proposed widening of I-5 at the San Dieguito River Valley, which include:

  • Protection of the sweeping open space views within this landscape;
  • Compatibility of future development with the open space character of the lagoon and surrounding area in terms of both visual compatibility and intensity of use;
  • Preservation and, where appropriate, enhancement of view opportunities of the lagoon and ocean from trails and existing circulation routes; and
  • Provision of an adequate buffer between development and sensitive resources in order to reduce adverse impacts associated with noise, lighting and intensive human activity.



posted 08/28/10

Your last chance to question CalTrans about their Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the proposed expansion of I-5 from La Jolla to Oceanside is September 9 in Oceanside. Information at the public hearing, the last of five, will be presented in an Open House format with staff available at large tables with enlarged copies of drawings, tables and data reports.  Usually four staff are available at each table to answer questions about different aspects of the Report, for instance, project design, environment impacts, noise and condemned properties associated with the 27-mile project.  You can move between the tables asking questions anytime between 5 and 8 p.m.

Some of the alternative designs call for ten single-vehicle traffic lanes plus four HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles such as car pools and buses) lanes that will encroach upon wetlands, including the San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration Project in the River Valley. The Department has informed the public in written notice that it intends to make a de minimis impact finding (will not adversely affect the activities, features or attributes qualifying for protection unless there is adequate mitigation) for eligible, i.e. public, properties. But CalTrans has specifically exempted right of way land to be taken for expansion in the Lagoon area because it is “privately” owned by Southern California Edison even though the property is part of the San Dieguito River Park and contains a public regional trail!  This is just one of the environmental impacts we are reviewing.  And we want you to get involved.

If you have not already attended one of these informational meetings we encourage you to do so and get answers to your questions.  The best way to prepare for the hearing is to review the DEIR on line at or at local libraries including Del Mar and Carmel Valley.  If you live in Del Mar you may also attend workshop meetings at the Del Mar Annex. These meetings are posted on this website.

Your comments and concerns regarding the proposed project and potential impacts on the Lagoon and River Park are important.  You may submit your written comments at the September 9 meeting; via regular mail to Shay Lynn M. Harrison, Branch Chief, Environmental Planning Branch C, CalTrans District 11, (MS 242), 4050 Taylor St., San Diego, CA 92110; or by e-mail via the website noted above.  All comments are due no later than October 7, 2010.   The last scheduled CalTrans public hearing will be held on September 9.     

< Public meeting opposing Caltrans I-5 widening project

posted 08/27/10

On August 19 a public meeting at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church attracted about 300 people concerned with the release by Caltrans of the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed widening of Interstate 5. The meeting was organized by two groups opposed to the project.

The La Jolla to Oceanside Project proposes to widen Interstate 5 over a distance of 27 miles. Several speakers addressed the environmental and physical impact of the widening with the loss of some properties and the creation of what will mostly be a wide corridor dedicated to even more cars.

The impact to the San Dieguito River Park will result in loss of space taken by the freeway, more noise and pollution for pedestrians walking the trails as well as possible effects on wildlife. The section of the Coast to Crest Trail  just east of I-5, which is part of the recent San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration project, will be negatively impacted.

Caltrans was invited but declined to participate. Mostly the public spoke in opposition to the scale of the project . Look out for further chances for comment.

< Meetings re Proposed Expansion of I-5 from La Jolla to Oceanside: Thursday,  August 19 and Tuesday, August 24 

posted 08/14/10

AUGUST 19 AND AUGUST 24: Two meetings will be held on the proposed expansion of I-5 from La Jolla to Oceanside.  We are concerned about potential negative impacts on the restored San Dieguito Lagoon with its revitalized bird and fish sanctuaries on both the west and east sides of I-5 at the Via de la Valle/I-5 intersection.  The Friends will be reviewing the Draft EIR that has just been released, and we encourage interested residents to attend the meetings, to participate in the informational sessions (one sponsored by two citizens groups and the other by CalTrans) and to submit your concerns to CalTrans.