Genesee Bridge Plans Approved in I-5 Expansion

Students and faculty who use the I-5/Genesee exit will soon have a larger bridge and wider roads as a result of the I-5/Genesse interchange project. Approved by the San Diego Association of Governments on Oct. 14, the project will use an initial $56.3 million expenditure from the TransNet Fund. The final project is expected to cost $94.1 million.

Director of Physical & Community Planning at UCSD Brad Wordick is responsible for the creating and implementing the campus plans and is the liaison between Cal Trans and UCSD.
Wordick said that the I-5/Genesee expansion will help to reduce congestion surrounding the UCSD area, hospitals and laboratories.

“It will provide much better circulation and access to campus during peak periods,” Wordick said.

The project will replace the Genesee Avenue bridge with a six-lane structure that will add a southbound auxiliary lane to I-5 between Genesee and Sorrento Valley Road. The project will be up for construction bid by the end of 2012. Construction will begin in 2013.

The Genesee/I-5 interchange is the first of a number of projects aimed at reducing heavy congestion in growing San Diego county.  

The entire completed project is expected to cost $3.5 billion over 40 years and will be funded by the TransNet fund.

The TransNet fund is a voter-approved enactment that raised the sales tax in San Diego County by one-half cent in 1987. The goal was to relieve traffic congestion. A voter-approved extension in 2008 is now expected to raise $14 billion in the next 40 years.  

Since the complete expansion is located entirely within the coastal zone, it has prompted concern by environmentalists as well as residents as to the future of the six coastal lagoons.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 468 on Friday Oct. 7, which addresses many of the concerns that residents have about the 40-year construction project.

Proposed by Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), SB 468 calls for completion of mass transit projects in conjunction with the 27-mile freeway expansion.

Kehoe had concerns that the project did not focus on transit improvements between La Jolla Village Drive and Camp Pendleton until about 30 years into the project.
Kehoe asked the Senate Transportation Committee to call for a hearing last November on the proposed expansion. Over 300 people attended the November meeting in Solana Beach. Residents, businesses
and environmentalists all voiced concerns about the size of the expansion at the meeting.

“There are better ways to move people through coastal communities than by only widening freeways,” Kehoe said in a prepared statement at the November meeting.

Some attendees raised concerns about keeping business flowing during construction while improving air quality and protecting the coast.
Kehoe drafted SB 468 to require Cal Trans and SANDAG to pay for improvements to local roads that carry traffic from the freeway.

“This funding must be set aside before construction on any freeway begins,” Kehoe said.

The bill also addresses the ability for drivers to have efficient transit options available during the 40-year construction period. The final project will be implemented in four 10-year phases, and each phase will include a balance of transit, rail, highway and environmental improvement.

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