$181M Project To Widen SR-76 Begins

Officials from the California Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration announced Tuesday the start of a $181 million freeway construction project in the North County.

The project involves widening state Route 76 from a two-lane highway to a four-lane highway, starting with Melrose Drive to South Mission Road. Construction from South Mission Road to Interstate 15 is scheduled to start next year.

Federal economic stimulus funds will cover $75.3 million of the construction costs. The rest of the money will come from state, federal and local transportation tax funds.

"These Recovery Act dollars are bringing much needed freeway improvements to North County motorists," said Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki. "These dollars will also create or retain nearly 3,300 jobs during the course of the project."

The San Diego Association of Governments, the region's planning organization, estimates 30,000 vehicles travel the Melrose Drive-to-South Mission Road portion of the highway daily. That number is expected to rise to more than 60,000 by 2030.

In addition to congestion, accidents have plagued the Melrose Drive to South Mission Road portion of state Route 76. According to Caltrans, the accident rate there consistently meets or exceeds the statewide average compared to similar two-lane roads.