BONSALL – Two new westbound lanes on State Route 76 between Bonsall and Oceanside opened today.
The new lanes are part of a project to widen the state road across northern San Diego County, according to San Diego Association of Governments and Caltrans.
The work on the middle section of SR 76 was expected to cost $171.4 million by the time it’s completed.
The western end of the highway, which runs through Oceanside to Interstate 5, opened 13 years ago. Work is scheduled to begin later this month on the eastern end, running to Interstate 15.
The work was expected to take abut three years.
”Widening state Route 76 has long been a priority for SANDAG and for North County,” SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks said. ”It’s exciting that this milestone has been reached, but this is just the beginning of the efforts to reduce traffic congestion along this key east-west corridor.”
The new westbound lanes run from Sweetgrass Lane in Bonsall to Melrose Drive in Oceanside.
Work on eastbound lanes is continuing, and those lanes are expected to reopen in November.
Two new westbound lanes on State Route 76 opening to traffic on Thursday
NORTH COUNTY – Beginning Thursday, October 18, motorists on State Route 76 in inland North County will have access to two newly-built westbound lanes between Melrose Drive and Sweetgrass Lane (just east of South Mission Road), stretching from the City of Oceanside to the unincorporated community of Bonsall.
Construction crews from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will still be working in the area, closing one of the two eastbound lanes for approximately three weeks. The newly improved eastbound lanes will be fully open to traffic in early November.
“We are putting the finishing touches on the project,” said Caltrans SR 76 Corridor Director Allan Kosup. “Crews need to complete some paving and striping operations before opening all the lanes.”
The new lanes are part of a bigger project to realign and widen SR 76 to create a conventional four-lane highway. The project is being built in three segments: west, middle, and east. The west segment between Interstate 5 (I-5) and Melrose Drive within Oceanside was completed in 1999. The middle segment is the stretch slated to open on Thursday. The last segment will complete the link between I-5 and Interstate 15 (I-15). The first phase of the last segment—improvement of the I-15/SR 76 interchange—will begin construction later this month.
“Widening State Route 76 has long been a priority for SANDAG and for North County,” SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks said. “It’s exciting that this milestone has been reached, but this is just the beginning of the efforts to reduce traffic congestion along this key east-west corridor. The next steps will be to complete the widening all the way to I-15 and rebuild that interchange, then focus on improving the I-5/SR 78 interchange as well.”
The newly complete middle segment of SR 76 cost $171.4 million. Funding sources include $65.5 million from TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation projects administered by SANDAG; $75.6 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act; $16.8 million in Federal Demonstration funds; and $13.5 million in state funds.
When the I-15/SR 76 interchange project is completed some of the improvements will include a wider bridge over I 15, wider on- and off-ramps, as well as two new loop ramps to I-15. Construction between South Mission Road and Old Highway 395 is anticipated to start in fall 2013 and be completely open to traffic by the end of 2015. This final segment is estimated to cost $201 million.
For more information on the SR 76 project, visit KeepSanDiegoMoving.com.
SR76 switch-over now delayed until late night of October 17 for October 18 use
Village News Correspondent
*The implementation date of the SR76 switchover has been delayed due to rain. This story has been updated with the most current information possible.
Motorists traveling on State Route 76 will have another switch in lane usage Oct. 18 as part of the final work on the project to widen the road between Sweetgrass Lane in Bonsall and Melrose Drive in Oceanside.
During the late night of Oct. 17 and the early morning of Oct. 18 westbound drivers will be switched to the two northern lanes, which will become the ultimate two westbound lanes. Currently the two ultimate eastbound lanes are being used to carry traffic, and during the night traffic will be halted periodically to allow motorists to transition to the new lanes.
“There are going to be some quick stops, but no detours,” said Caltrans project manager Ann Fox. “There are stops for a few minutes to get traffic to stop and then move over to these new lanes.”
The stoppages include striping activity to guide motorists to the proper lanes for their direction. “Ninety-nine percent of the work is striping,” Fox said.
Fox expects all stoppage activity to be finished prior to the morning commute of Oct. 18.
The transition will make Highway 76 a three-lane road with two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane for approximately a month. Although the official completion date for the widening between Sweetgrass and Melrose is December 2012, Caltrans expects the four-lane road to be operational in mid-November with some paving and striping work taking place after that time.
“To the traveling public by mid-November we’ll have four lanes available,” Fox said.
The construction work on the interchange at Highway 76 and Interstate 15 will take place on Oct. 25 (unless weather delays occur), so motorists may have some delays or detours that day associated with the beginning of the construction phase for that project.