Construction on Highway 78 to ease hectic traffic for rush hour commute

Traffic on Highway 78 has inspired a kick start to the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan.

The plan includes auxiliary lanes on both sides of the Nordhl exit. They are currently under construction and are expected to be complete by 2013.

Rachel Kennedy of the San Diego Association of Government estimated that the expansion will cost $917 million to $1.1 billion.

Project manager David Sebbin said, “for the past few years we’ve noticed a lot of congestion on the 78 due to new housing developments. We had plans to expand the 78 but we advanced them because of how bad the traffic was.”

Palomar student John Ess said, “the 78 is terrible, I spend about an hour and 45 minutes a day stuck in traffic on my way to work and school.”

According to CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt, “the 78 corridor is the busiest in all of San Diego county.”

“The three lanes can’t handle the amount of traffic the corridor is experiencing,” said Bettencourt.

Sebbin agreed saying, “the bottleneck at Nordhl is the worst.”

“There are many problems we need to fix on the 78 and we are, just in the first step. Once we fix one issue, the grid-lock will move to another area,” said Sebbin.

Sebbin is also managing the construction of a bridge replacement at Nordhl that will connect the 78 to the 15, and will ease traffic entering and exiting the freeway. The bridge is expected to be complete by 2020.

According to SANDAG, The San Diego Association of Governments the new structure will have dedicated left-turn lanes that are meant to minimize vehicles stacking up and blocking thru lanes at the exit.

“It’s hard to predict the traffic impact of the new lanes but any expansion would help increase the flow of traffic which is what we want,” said Bettencourt.

Ess is hopeful that, “expansion will help, eventually.”

The use for the developing auxiliary lanes is still up for discussion as SANDAG, along with Cal-trans conducts a 78 Corridor Study to examine alternatives for improving traffic on the 78.

Both alternatives include the addition of a new lane. The options are to make the new auxiliary lanes into HOV lanes for carpools and transit vehicles or to make them into toll roads.

According to SANDAG the study is meant to examine the use of express lanes for mobility and the potential revenues that could be collected by toll lanes.

In March SANDAG set up workshops to discuss the upcoming improvements and to hear the public’s input on possible outcomes for the 78 Corridor Study.

The study is anticipated to be complete by May.

emaliszewski@the-telescope.com

Author: Emma Maliszewski

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