Connecting the SR-56 Bike Path to the UTC Job Centers

We received an email from reader, Ryan Smith, who lives along the 56 corridor and wants to bike to work. His email stated the following:

I live around the 56 corridor and reluctantly drive the 56 for my daily commute to the UTC area. I know that the 56 corridor bike path doesn’t directly connect to the UTC area, unless one risks a brief run on the 5 or 805. Would you know if there are plans to create a specific bike path (I don’t trust shoulders on the highway) to connect El Camino Real to La Jolla Village Dr/Miramar Road which would go parallel with the 5 or 805, but not force bicyclists to brave those specific highways? I think this would be highly instrumental in making the 56 bike path corridor much more useful as a biking commute. The only alternatives are to (a) go all the way to Torrey Pines and bike up the steep hill into UTC, (b) head over to Miramar Rd and brave that street traffic (during commute hours!). Neither of those alternatives is highly desirable.

We didn’t know the answer so we contacted SANDAG planner, Chris Carterette to learn if any plans were afoot. Carterette contacted Caltrans Bike/Ped Coordinator, Seth Cutter, who responded as follows:

Two of the projects associated with the North Coast Bikeway plan address the two major impediments that Mr. Smith encounters on his commute from the SR-56 corridor to the UTC area.

The “bike trail” that is proposed from Sorrento Valley Rd./Roselle St./Sorrento Valley Coaster Station that will go up the hill to Genesee Ave. and then cross over Genesee and continue on up to Voigt Dr. is expected to go to construction late this year or early 2014. It will likely take a good two years to construct, but will provide a separate bike path-type experience for users, as opposed to the current situation where cyclists must ride along the I-5 freeway shoulders or take the long way as Mr. Smith pointed out. Additionally, the path is expected to be shielded significantly by grade, landscaping, or a combination or the two for a better quality of experience.

The second impediment is the gap in the connection from the SR-56 bike path to the Old Sorrento Valley Rd. bike path, just south of Carmel Valley Rd. Currently bicyclists and pedestrians have to get off of the path and use Carmel Valley Rd. through the I-5 interchange to access Old Sorrento Valley Rd. Caltrans does have this connection identified as a project in the North Coast Bikeway, the I-5 North Coast Corridor EIR/EIS, and the Public Works Program within the large I-5 North Coast Corridor project. This proposed connection could be several years from being constructed, but we are trying to push up the schedule. We have been told that environmental clearance should not be an issue, due to the level of study that has already been performed in the lagoon. The problem with the current schedule is that freeway work is not expected to be performed in the area for quite a few years. Recently, however, Caltrans Design engineers started studying the proposal with the intent to come up with a set of design plans for the project. Perhaps the new Caltrans Active Transportation Program that is in the process of being set up for non-motorized and enhancement projects will provide a source of funding.

Carterette followed up and responded

The City of San Diego may also have some improvements in the vicinity, as they are working on alternatives analysis for Coastal Rail Trail from Roselle to Gilman. It is a challenging area.

Carterette also sent a pdf document showing what this North Coast Bikeway looks like on a map. The connection referred to by Cutter can be viewed in the image below.

UTC to 56 Connection. Coming soon.
UTC to 56 Connection. Coming soon. Click for a bigger version

Thank you Chris and Seth for the responses. We’re looking forward to seeing the connection made complete.