Dozens voiced their opinions at a public meeting on Wednesday about the problematic connection between Interstate 5 and state Route 56 in Carmel Valley.
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Sara Hansen is a teacher at the San Diego Jewish Academy. Every day, she drives from I-5 to the Ted Williams Freeway to get to class, but it is never easy.
"I think it's a big bottleneck, and I would be excited for a connector," said Hansen, adding that a freeway connector would alleviate a lot of traffic.
Hansen is not alone. Thousands of commuters are forced to take surface streets when they drive from southbound I-5 to SR-56 heading east or from west SR-56 to I-5 north.
"It's a hassle," said Karlene Carpenter, a salesperson who drives through that area almost every day. "You have to get off the freeway and then get back on again and then like if you want to go over there, you've got to make a U-turn. It's a pain in the butt."
Caltrans is now working to ease traffic in the area while trying to avoid making the people who live nearby angry.
"There are projects where the impacts aren't worth the benefits," said Allan Kosup, who is the Caltrans I-5 corridor director.
Kosup said there are five possible options to deal with the growing amount of traffic in the Carmel Valley area. One option is to do nothing. The second involves building two bridges to create direct connectors between the two freeways. Three other alternatives involve widening roads and/or building a single connector.
"The direct connectors provide the best traffic relief, but people have concerns about their visual and their noise impacts and so some of the other alternatives provide maybe less traffic relief, but they also have less impacts to the communities," Kosup said.
To help residents and commuters get a better idea of the plans Caltrans is working on, they held a public meeting Wednesday night in Del Mar. It was a chance for people to look at diagrams, read traffic impact studies and look at the kinds of shrubbery and soundproof walls that might be included in the project, if it moves forward. They were encouraged to make comments.
"I am frankly appalled that the lack of planning has led to this," said Mary Farrell. "[The] 56 has not been around for very long and there was no provision made, none whatsoever for the connector."
Farrell, who lives nearby, said she does not like any of the plans now under consideration, and said had Caltrans built the connector before it opened SR-56, millions of taxpayer dollars would have been saved.
Ruth Kucker, whose home is just yards away from I-5, felt much the same, claiming that building bridges now will increase the freeway noise in her community and force her and her neighbors to have to look at the massive structures they do not want.
"It's just not acceptable," she said.
Caltrans is accepting public comment on the proposals until July 19. A decision on which plan to pursue will be made by the end of 2012, but any construction if approved would not begin until 2020 at the earliest.
"So traffic will still be bad right here for another 10 years?" asked Carpenter, rolling her eyes.
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