Project on schedule to deliver new multimodal travel options to the public by late 2021
On December 4, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Build North Coast Corridor (NCC) crews performed the final concrete pour to complete the underground foundation for the new Interstate 5 (I-5) bridge at the San Elijo Lagoon in the City of Encinitas. The bridge reconstruction will help relieve traffic congestion, improve lagoon tidal flows, and create new bike and pedestrian paths when complete in late 2021.
“Throughout the course of this regionally significant transportation project, the efforts to reestablish the health of the San Elijo Lagoon is an achievement with regional environmental benefits,” said Gustavo Dallarda, Caltrans District 11 Director. “In this time of COVID restrictions, the men and women of Caltrans and our contractors remain committed to safety and delivering this truly exceptional project.”
Construction first broke ground in early 2017 to replace the original, 57-year-old San Elijo Lagoon I-5 highway bridge located above Manchester Avenue. The project is part of the first phase of construction of the NCC program, a 40-year, $6 billion balanced set of highway, rail, environmental, bike and pedestrian mobility, and coastal access projects along a 27-mile corridor stretching from La Jolla to Oceanside.
After successfully opening new exterior I-5 bridges to motorists in February, crews demolished the original bridge and worked continuously through the pandemic to form new bridge foundation columns that will support the interior of the reconstructed San Elijo Lagoon highway bridge.
The new bridge has 22 support columns running 145 feet deep and eight support columns running 255 feet deep below ground level, which will allow the bridge to support current and future travel demands and to withstand seismic events. Sediment unearthed from the ongoing foundation column work was transported from the bridge construction site and used to support ongoing San Elijo Lagoon restoration and plant establishment efforts.
Once the bridge is complete in late 2021, it will accommodate one new Carpool/High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane in each direction on I-5 and a new north-south suspended bike and pedestrian bridge below the highway and above the San Elijo Lagoon to connect Manchester Avenue with the lagoon’s robust trail network. In future construction phases of the NCC program, the bridge will accommodate a second Carpool/HOV Lane in each direction on I-5 and a future Direct Access Ramp from Manchester Avenue.
“The reconstructed San Elijo Lagoon highway bridge and other regional transportation infrastructure investments we are making now will increase capacity and provide more travel options along these vital corridors,” said SANDAG Chair and Mayor of Poway Steve Vaus. “This project is a direct example of the Complete Corridors model, the first in a series of key mobility strategies known as the 5 Big Moves, that reimagines our region’s transportation network to manage and support continued growth.”
During the next year, Build NCC highway crews will construct interior above-ground bridge structures. In late 2021, the four separate bridge structures – two northbound and two southbound – will be connected to form the new lengthened and widened San Elijo Lagoon highway bridge.
To ensure safety for motorists and construction crews throughout the course of this work, drivers are reminded to “Drive 55 on the 5” in the Build NCC construction zone and that traffic fines are doubled in construction zones. The SANDAG operated Motorist Aid service for roadside assistance can be easily accessed by dialing 5-1-1 anywhere in San Diego County. Additionally, the “Move Over” law requires all drivers to move over a lane or, if they are unable to do so safely, slow down when they see amber flashing lights on Caltrans vehicles, law enforcement and emergency vehicles, and tow trucks.
To learn more and to sign up for project email updates, visit KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/BuildNCC. Text “BuildNCC” to 313131 to sign up to receive construction text alerts.
The Build NCC project began in 2017 and is anticipated to be complete in 2022. The $869 million project is funded through a combination of federal, state, and local sources. The highway portion of Build NCC is estimated to cost $663 million.