Neighbors sue Caltrans over I-5/SR 56 Interchange Project

Posted at 4:01 PM, Nov 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-23 23:26:30-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A group of community members is taking their concerns over a Caltrans project to court.

For several years Caltrans has been studying and creating a plan to connect I-5 and SR-56.

For many drivers, getting to SR-56 from southbound I-5 can be difficult, especially when the traffic is bad. Drivers have to get off the freeway at Carmel Valley Road and go through a few traffic lights, which ends up taking more time.

That's where the I-5/SR 56 Interchange Projectcomes in, a plan that would construct two flyovers to help drivers seamlessly get from one freeway to another.

Caltrans proposed several options for the project but believes this one is best for the city.

However, residents with Citizens for Sensible Traffic Planning believe the plan could have negative consequences.

"The biggest problem we have with this is the height of the flyover, being so high in the air, it obviously makes it impossible to mitigate the noise, the pollution for all the homes and offices and schools in the area," said Brian Farmer, who is with the group.

Concerned citizens say they do not believe Caltrans conducted the necessary environmental studies. They believe the impact report released to the public leaves many questions unanswered.

"I just want to make sure the health of my family and hundreds of other families around here is considered and they make a smart decision," said Farmer.

Caltrans has outlined solutions for noise control and says it exceeded what was required as far as environmental studies. 

10News received this statement from Caltrans Public Information Officer Cathryne Bruce-Johnson:

"The environmental impacts of all of the alternatives of the I-5/SR-56 Interchange Project were evaluated in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR). Caltrans held public meetings and received comments from the public and other agencies. Caltrans then kept working on meeting the challenges raised by those comments and conducted further technical study.  While that process was underway, legislation was passed which impacted the entire North Coast Corridor suite of projects. That legislation called for the projects to be analyzed under the policies and framework of the California Coastal Act instead of the California Environmental Act (CEQA). Since Caltrans had already started the CEQA process, we felt that keeping the common format of the EIR was useful for a public disclosure and an overall environmental analysis standpoint. In essence we wanted to demonstrate to the public that even though CEQA no longer technically applied, we put the same level of effort, analysis and public disclosure into the decision making process as we would for any major project. That effort was in addition to the process required under the Coastal Act and the federally-required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

Caltrans has complied with all requirements and will defend itself.