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Encinitas tackles work widening I-5 bridge over San Elijoo Lagoon

I-5 goes over bridge and past San Elijoo Lagoon south of Encinitas. 2013.
I-5 goes over bridge and past San Elijoo Lagoon south of Encinitas. 2013.

By May, the Encinitas city council will have reviewed Caltrans plans to widen the I-5 bridge over the San Elijoo Lagoon as part of the North Coast Corridor I-5 express lanes project. The bridge, that for decades has blocked off water flow in the east lagoon, has to be widenned to give the I-5 drivers in a growing population travel mobility, and faster group travel times.

The California Coastal Commission, currently reviewing a draft public works plan submitted last November that makes a coastal development permit unnecessary, will decide on an approval for the coastal corridor development plan later in 2014.

Encinitas invited the public to get together at meetings to work on making the best plan to build HOV lanes from Manchester Avenue to the SR 78 and replace the old I-5 bridge, and, minimize the lagoon habitat restoration that will have to get done. One top plan is to build a lagoon bridge at a maximum width and length. Bridges with large space over the land best let the lagoon ecology refresh regularly using coastal water flow.

The council held two meetings on the draft public works plan in February. It will hold six public meetings through May. In May, at the last meeting, the Encinitas city response to the public works plan that covers 27 coastal miles will be finalized. Encinitas will submt the plan made with citizens to the California Coastal Commission.

Caltrans planners plan to move more people on the I-5 in carpools, buses, and bus rapid transit to keep freeway traffic going smoothly. The improved commutes will not slow down economic growth in the region. Adding transportation options was part of the official public deal agreed on when the state passed the California Coastal Act in 1976. The act protects lagoon habitats against impacts above the least impact necessary to keep the coastal corridor open to Californiia travelers.

This is a Center Line Policy Alert.