I-5 corridor work to begin this summer in Encinitas


A long-term Interstate 5 corridor plan kicks off this summer in Encinitas with new bike and pedestrian paths at the Encinitas Boulevard and Santa Fe Drive freeway interchanges.

At both of the thoroughfares, plans call for an 11-foot wide bike lane and 6-foot wide sidewalk running below the overpasses.

“Basically we’re trying to get people from east to west, and vice versa,” said Arturo Jacobo, project manager with Caltrans, in a recent interview with the Encinitas Advocate.

Jacobo updated the Encinitas City Council last week on those and other projects on the horizon. They’re part of a $6.5 billion package of freeway, rail and bike initiatives from La Jolla to Oceanside over 30 years.

“The good news is you don’t have to wait 30 years for some of those improvements,” Jacobo told the council.

This fall, construction is slated to start on replacing the San Elijo Lagoon highway bridge. It will be widened to accommodate new I-5 express lanes, and lengthened to improve lagoon tidal flow, according to Jacobo.

Work is scheduled to begin at the end of 2016 on an I-5 express lane in each direction from Manchester Avenue in Cardiff to State Route 78 in Oceanside. The express lanes will accommodate buses, car poolers and solo drivers willing to pay a fee.

Exact construction dates for the near-term projects have yet to be announced.

Phase one of I-5 corridor plans, 2016 to 2020, in Encinitas also include: soundwalls; a park and ride as well as a bike lane on Manchester Avenue; and double-tracking the San Elijo Lagoon rail bridge.

Caltrans last fall delayed a direct-access freeway ramp on Manchester Avenue to phase 2. Jacobo said at the council meeting that a plan to rebuild the MacKinnon Avenue overpass in Cardiff with biking and walking in mind has been pushed back as well.

Mayor Kristin Gaspar expressed disappointment at that news. The overpass connects to the Encinitas Community Park, and transit officials want to make it easier to bike or walk there.

“It’s something that was important to the community,” Gaspar said. She added that Caltrans should “over-communicate” future construction plans to residents.

Jacobo in a follow-up interview said community meetings will be held ahead of larger I-5 corridor construction projects. To notify residents about potential road closures or anything else pertinent, Caltrans will also send out email blasts, constantly update and circulate a 1-800 number.

Councilman Tony Kranz said he’s concerned that phase one will add only six soundwalls in Encinitas. He stated the city should advocate for more to shield residents from noise.