LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) - Construction has begun on an extensive addition to the UC San Diego Campus: The "North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood," a 10-acre, 1.6 million square foot project just off of North Torrey Pines Road.
"We think this neighborhood will be transformative and something to look forward to for everyone who visits, that's for sure," says UC San Diego Program Manager Walter Kanzler.
The Neighborhood will be located off North Torrey Pines Road, in between Muir and Marshall Colleges. It will have six new buildings and house 2,000 students. The plans also call for 1,200 new underground parking spaces, a market, dining hall, retail space and a craft center. It will also become the home for the Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities colleges.
"It is the largest project in UCSD's history, and it's one of the largest in the UC System right now," says Kanzler.
The school held a groundbreaking Monday in Parking Lot P-208 on campus. That's one of two lots that will be demolished for the construction. They expect to have it opened by the fall semester of 2020.
But neighbors worry it's too much expansion for an area with limited room for growth.
At several public meetings over the last few years, people who live near the campus raised concerns about traffic. They feel it will clog North Torrey Pines Road, their only route in or out of the area.
The project's Environmental Impact Review addressed the issue. According to the report, two intersections will be hit the hardest by traffic.
By the year 2035, the report says, the rush hour wait time at North Torrey Pines and Genesee will double from about 2 and a half minutes to five.
At La Jolla Village and Villa La Jolla Drive, the delay will go from about a minute to three.
But the report also adds that the increase in delays will be mostly from normal growth. The North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood will only add about 6 seconds worth of delays at both intersections.
Still, the University plans to install upgraded sensors and technology at the street lights to mitigate the delays. They also say the new Blue Line on the MTS Trolley will help with traffic. It will have several stops around the La Jolla area. And adding dorm space will decrease the number of students who drive to and from campus every day.
But some neighbors are still worried.
"There's a lot of traffic on Torrey Pines Road," says Chuck Dick, who lives across the street from the construction site. "It isn't going to go away just because they build these buildings here."
The University also created this website to answer questions about the project.