News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Hub near San Elijo Lagoon designed for commuters, nature enthusiasts

Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz addresses visitors to the new San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride in Encinitas on Aug. 12. Next to him are (left to right) Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner, Caltrans District 11 Director Gustavo Dallarda and Assemblywoman and former Encinitas City Council member Tasha Boerner (D-77th District). (Caltrans photo)

Local officials and preservationists celebrated the completion of the San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride in Encinitas on Saturday, Aug. 12, among the final projects that have reshaped Interstate 5 and surrounding open space over the past several years.

The park-and-ride complex — part of the $987 million Build NCC program with the San Diego Association of Governments and Caltrans — is designed to promote carpooling and easier, safer parking and access to the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

“The Build NCC project has created new recreational opportunities for cyclists, pedestrians and hikers here in the City of Encinitas,” Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz said in a Caltrans news release. “Expanded trails and new bike lanes improve active transportation access at the south end of our City, and we’re pleased to host a mobility hub that will support a future community garden, more parking for San Elijo Lagoon visitors, and a Park and Ride facility that supports carpooling.”

The $9 million facility is located at 2581 Via Poco in Cardiff, just east of the freeway and across from the San Elijo Lagoon. Amenities include 177 parking spaces, bike racks and preparation for electric-vehicle charging stations.

An interactive display and information on how to access the San Elijo Lagoon is also included. There is also space set aside for the Fields of the Future community gardens, which will be managed by the Nature Collective, according to Caltrans.

“We are excited to have another access point that will allow more people to visit, connect with and experience the beauty and wonder of nature at San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and points beyond, now and in the future,” Nature Collective Executive Director Doug Gibson said in the news release. “We are happy to see this anticipated plan come to fruition and appreciate our long-standing collaboration with SANDAG, Caltrans, neighboring cities, and other agencies.”

The complex is also a new key link for park-and-ride access along the coast, according to Caltrans. Until the completion of the San Elijo site, there had been no such ride-sharing location in more than 6 miles between Birmingham Drive in Cardiff and Sorrento Valley. Officials said the additional spot will help avoid overcrowded parking at other locations and in nearby neighborhoods.

“The new San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride is a valuable addition to our community,” SANDAG Second Vice Chair and Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said in the news release. “This facility will reduce congestion by promoting ridesharing and active transportation use, increase coastal access throughout the North Coast Corridor, and provide parking for hiking the San Elijo lagoon, including Annie’s Canyon.”

A little more than a year ago, Encinitas and regional officials celebrated the completion of San Elijo Lagoon’s pedestrian suspension bridge under the portion of Interstate 5 that runs across the preserve. It marked the completion of one of California’s largest wetland restoration projects.

The overall $987 million Build NCC program includes $195 million from state Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. In addition, money comes from $543 million in federal funds and about $141 million in TransNet taxes. The voter-approved half-cent sales tax is administered by SANDAG.

“This versatile facility stands apart from a traditional Park & Ride by providing a direct connection to the highway for carpooling, trail access, and meeting the multimodal needs of the community by providing parking spaces for cars and bikes for lagoon visitors, in line with our goals of building a quicker, more equitable, and cleaner transportation system,” Caltrans District 11 Director Gustavo Dallarda said in the news release.