April 3, 2013
by Alison St. John

Tonight the public has a chance to comment on a $6 billion plan to relieve congestion in Coastal North County throughout the next 40 years.

North Coast Corridor The North Coast Corridor project would create and enhance bike and pedestrian access to natural resources, direct routes to transit and employment centers, and complete links in north-south and east-west connections.

The latest modifications of the North Coast Corridor plan propose to expand the railway line at the same time as expanding the freeway, rather than afterward.

That change from the original 2010 version of the plan came in response to legislation by former San Diego state Senator Christine Kehoe, who pushed for less money to keep people in their cars and more money invested in public transit.

The new plan also adds two bicycle lanes up the 27 miles from La Jolla to Oceanside. One is the Coastal Rail Trail, parts of which are already built. The other would be a trail up Interstate 5 for both cyclists and pedestrians.

Marco Gonzales of Coast Law Group said the plan is better than the original plan, but it still doesn’t focus enough on expanding public transit.

“The long distance commuter is not going to be getting on their bike to go all the way downtown,” he said, “they’re going to bike to a train station, get on a train and then bike from their stop to work. That’s what we need to focus on.”

The Coast Law Group is part of litigation against the Regional Transportation Plan, arguing the RTP does not cut greenhouse gasses enough in the coming decades.

Allan Kosup, director of the North Coast Corridor Project, said cyclists and pedestrians will be drawn to the trail down the freeway because it gives access to several scenic coastal lagoons. He said construction of two new express lanes up Interstate 5 should begin in 2015. Another two express lanes will be added in future decades as the money become available.

Kosup said adding a second railway line to the single line up the coast is already underway, though he couldn’t say when the double tracking would be finished. He said he believes train service up and down the coast will become more frequent even before the double rail track is finished.

Public hearings at 6 p.m. tonight at La Jolla Country Day School and Thursday at the Carlsbad Senior Center at 
799 Pine Ave. will give the public a chance to get up to speed on the latest plan.

After 60 days of public input, the plan will be modified yet again and then go to the California Coastal Commission for approval in spring of 2014.