As one of only two north-south corridors in northern San Diego County, the I-5 North Coast Corridor (NCC) – a 27-mile span from La Jolla to Oceanside – serves more than 700,000 daily trips, including weekday commuters, goods movement, local trips, weekend visitors, and recreation users. Improvements on I-5 are needed to address existing traffic congestion and provide flexibility to adapt to changes in travel demands.
Express Lanes will be built in the center median of I-5 from La Jolla Village Drive in San Diego to Harbor Drive in Oceanside. The lanes will be constructed in phases, beginning with the addition of carpool lanes (2016-2020). Later phases (2020-2035) will upgrade the carpool lanes to Express Lanes.
Provides reliable, fast travel times
The Express Lanes will be managed by Caltrans to ensure a congestion-free option for travelers. Express Lanes will help reduce travel times by approximately 50 percent versus general purpose lanes.*
*Assumes northbound p.m. peak travel times on I-5 in the NCC.
Flexibility for the Future
Express Lanes are flexible to adapt to changes in travel demand, land use, and technology. In addition, Express Lanes can accommodate a wide range of transit options including vanpools, carpools, buses, and a potential Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. In addition, fees generated from solo drivers using the FasTrak® system will be put towards future transit projects in the corridor.
Direct Access Ramps (DARs) are planned for I-5 at Manchester Avenue and Voigt Drive. These DARs will provide travelers a convenient location from which carpools, vanpools, buses, and solo drivers using FasTrak® can access the Express Lanes and help ensure reliable trip times for commuters.
What are Express Lanes?
Express Lanes encourage carpooling and other transit alternatives while offering solo drivers a congestion-priced option as opposed to the general purpose lanes.
These lanes provide access for carpools, vanpools, buses, and solo drivers who pay a fee to use the lanes. The lanes can be separated from the general purpose lanes by a concrete barrier or a painted, striped barrier. The Express Lanes on I-5 will be separated by a painted, striped barrier.
Only zero-emission vehicles displaying the approved green (plug-in hybrid) or white (clean-air) decal issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles are allowed to travel in Express Lanes for free with a solo driver.
* These lanes are actively managed by their operating agencies. Please note each toll facility may have different vehicle eligibility and pricing requirements for usage.
Why add Express Lanes?
Express Lanes on I-5 would provide travelers with the option to save time and money by carpooling rather than driving alone on congested general purpose lanes. They also offer solo drivers the choice to save time for a user fee through a FasTrak® system, generating funds that will be used to further improve transit in the corridor, including a potential BRT service that could travel in the Express Lanes. Express Lanes can be congestion-priced to ensure they remain a congestion-free option for travelers.