Tree removals expected as I-5 work continues in Encinitas

Native vegetation to replace lost foliage, project update states


This Caltrans rendering shows the look south toward San Elijo Lagoon at the Interstate 5 Manchester Avenue offramp in Cardiff. (Caltrans photo)

North Coast Current

Trees and plants are set to be removed along the shoulders of Interstate 5 through Encinitas ahead of bird nesting season by mid-February, the San Diego Association of Governments announced Dec. 2.

The removals are part of a switch from work on the freeway’s widened median to the shoulders by early 2020, the agency stated in an update sent to news outlets and the community at large.

The announcement follows community concerns expressed in early November over tree removals in the Build NCC widening project, when decades-old foliage was removed in spots through Cardiff and elsewhere along Interstate 5 in Encinitas.

“I’ve been deeply unhappy watching the wholesale removal of historic trees in the Caltrans right-of-way as the I-5 freeway is widened through Encinitas with new carpool lanes in each direction,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear stated in her community newsletter sent Nov. 11.

Blakespear had stated at the time that she met with Caltrans officials to find a way to prevent the removal of older trees, such as Torrey pines and eucalyptus, and mitigate their loss when cut.

SANDAG stated Dec. 2 that the I-5 construction plans call for the planting of a variety of native trees and landscaping by the project’s completion in 2022.

“Approximately 1,550 new trees, and thousands of new plants and shrubs, will be planted along the project’s limits by the end of construction in 2022, providing the corridor with even more greenery than previously existed,” according SANDAG’s project update.

The state Coastal Commission-approved plan includes species such as Torrey pines, coast live oaks, coastal sagebrush, lemonade berry, toyon and desert broom, SANDAG stated.

Trees already in the construction zone will be re-evaluated by Caltrans specialists, contractors and local arborists, according to the update. Trees will be marked for protection when possible.

More information is available online at

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