Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist
jlindquist

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Del Mar to Poway, 10 minutes

CA-56I drove out to Del Mar via Carmel Valley Rd., got on I-5 south, and then drove all the way home straight through on CA-56. After 46 years, it now connects I-5 and I-15, as of tonight. The westbound lanes are still closed while Caltrans crews clear construction barricades, stripe pavement, and remove "FREEWAY ENDS" signage. They should be done in time for the morning rush hour. But the eastbound lanes are already open, following yesterday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
When I moved here eight years ago, 56 was two dead-end expressways. You could go two and a half miles east from I-5 before dumping out onto 2-lane Carmel Valley Rd, which eventually turned into a dirt road winding through the backcountry, coming out in a residential neighborhood in Rancho Penasquitos. And you could go two miles west from I-15 until that leg ended at the Black Mountain Rd exit.

Four years and change ago, Carmel Valley Rd was realigned and paved (some portions are four lanes, others are two lanes but obviously intended to be expanded to four or six in time,) hooking up with the north end of Black Mountain Rd (previously a dead end.) Three years ago, they extended the eastern leg to Camino Ruiz Del Sur, connecting to new developments in western PQ (including Westview High School,) and more importantly, taking commuter traffic off Black Mountain. CVRd still backed up during the morning and evening rush, but for a lot of folks, it was better than using Miramar Rd for their commute. With 56 fully open, we'll see what happens. I think it will snarl too, but it'll still be a win.

There is still work to be done... Carmel Valley Rd is still in the process of being realigned. Some stretches have already been moved once or twice as grading and development occur. Its intersection with 56 was moved an entire half mile two months ago, and the section leading up to it looks like it will move a few hundred feet south within the next few months--grading, curbs, and some asphalt are already down for a new 4-lane section. CalTrans is finally talking about connector ramps on the north side of the I-5 interchange, but that will take another four to six years to happen. (Slowed partly by money, partly by the massive I-5/I-805 junction expansion that reaches past 56.)

And not all of 56 will be completed. The road was originally planned in 1958 to extend to CA-67, on the eastern edge of what is now the city of Poway. Indeed, Ted Williams Parkway is 56's continuation east of 15, and is built like an expressway until it hits Pomerado Rd. Part of the reason for Poway's incorporation was to delete 56 through Poway, which together with deletion of the CA-125 leg connecting Santee via east Poway with I-15, effectively killed the "third ring" freeway around San Diego. 67 was only expanded as a freeway as far as Mapleview Rd in Lakeside. Freeway status was less important without 56 to connect with. But now, it needs to be expanded from 2 lanes through Poway to Ramona, as Ramona has grown madly. There's talk, but that would be a difficult and expensive project. There's also talk of extending 125 from Santee only as far as Scripps Poway Parkway, providing access to the business park there. The leg to I-15 just south of Lake Hodges is dead, dead, and dead, as northeastern Poway is all multimillion dollar homes.

But it's damned nice... the once-40-minute run between Poway and Del Mar is now down to 10.

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