Caltrans releases freeway-widening environmental impact report

1,000-page document outlines 27-mile project

In the case of the proposed Interstate 5 widening for San Diego County, a picture’s worth 1,000 pages.

That’s the length of the draft environmental impact report the California Department of Transportation recently released that outlines a several billion-dollar project to widen a 27-mile stretch of I-5 from La Jolla to Oceanside. Caltrans officials say the demand on the freeway will increase from 200,000 vehicles per day to 300,000 by the year 2030.

“Obviously, the number one goal is to reduce congestion,” said Caltrans representative Arturo Jacovo in a June 24 presentation to the Solana Beach City Council.

According to the presentation, Caltrans has picked out four ways to go about doing this. The cheapest alternative, aside from not doing anything, would mean eight general lanes on I-5 with four car-pool lanes protected by a striped buffer. That is estimated to cost $3.3 billion. The most expensive is 10 general lanes with four car-pool lanes protected by a concrete barrier, which could run $4.4 billion.

The choice will be made after receiving input from several agencies, including the San Diego Association of Governments, later this year.

Meanwhile, a group known as Prevent Los Angeles Gridlock Usurping Our Environment, or PLAGUE, is mobilizing a fund-raising effort to pay for environmental attorneys to challenge the EIR. PLAGUE Chairman Noel Spaid said numerous studies have shown that adding lanes does not solve the problem of reducing traffic.

“Los Angeles has been doing this for 40 years, and there are seven hours of gridlock every single workday,” she said. “When do you start understanding that is not the answer?”

Caltrans has scheduled five informational town hall meetings, one in each major North County city. The one in Solana Beach will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 24 at Skyline Elementary School. There is not currently a meeting scheduled to take place in Del Mar.

Copies of the EIR are available at It will also be distributed on compact discs. Hard copies will only be made available to cities and public libraries.

Members of the public will have 90 days to submit comments, to which the Department of Transportation is legally required to respond.

The widening project could also have impacts on several properties in Solana Beach. Those homeowners will receive special notices in the mail. To view the EIR and to comment online, visit