North Coast Corridor FAQ

What is the North Coast Corridor (NCC) Program?

The North Coast Corridor (NCC) Program is a comprehensive set of transportation, environment, and coastal access projects designed to improve the quality of life for residents, create a stronger local and regional economy for the future, and enhance the coastal environment. 

The NCC is an economic lifeline to the region consisting of 27 miles of highway, rail, and environmental habitat that connect the cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, and San Diego. The NCC includes six coastal lagoons: Buena Vista, Agua Hedionda, Batiquitos, San Elijo, San Dieguito, and Los Peñasquitos.

NCC Program highlights include: 

Construct 27 miles of Express Lanes on Interstate 5 (I-5) from La Jolla to Oceanside ensuring a reliable, congestion-free travel option for carpools, vanpools, and buses, and to solo drivers for a fee. 

Invest revenue generated from the I-5 Express Lanes into future NCC transit projects. 

Improve more than 30 highway overpasses with better bike/pedestrian paths. 

Double track 97 percent of the 60-mile San Diego segment of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) coastal rail line over the next 30 years.

Upgrade rail stations and platforms, and add pedestrian undercrossings and other safety and operational enhancements.

How long will it take to implement the NCC Program?

The NCC Program will be constructed in phases over the next few decades. Some coastal rail improvement projects are underway, such as the Sorrento Valley Double Track Project and the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Bridges Replacement Project. Please visit the Coastal Rail (LOSSAN) section of the NCC Program website for more information on current rail projects. In early 2016, work is scheduled to begin on Phase 1 of the I-5 highway improvements, which will extend High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)/carpool lanes, one in each direction, from Lomas Santa Fe to State Route 78 (SR 78). For more information on highway projects, visit the Highway Improvements section of this website.

What is the status of the NCC Program?

For more than a decade, Caltrans, SANDAG, local cities, resource agencies, and community members have been working together to identify, refine, and implement projects to comprehensively address the needs of the NCC. 

In August 2014, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to approve the NCC Public Works Plan (PWP). The PWP, released by Caltrans and SANDAG in 2013, ensures steps are taken to protect and enhance the environment and improve coastal access. The PWP creates a strategy for implementing the NCC Program package of improvements in a comprehensive and environmentally responsible way.

Today, there are several projects either under construction or completed. Construction on I-5 in North County will start in 2016. Phase 1 includes one HOV/carpool lane in each direction from Lomas Santa Fe to SR 78. 

What is BuildNCC?

Construction will begin in 2016 on BuildNCC, which is a comprehensive package of transportation and environmental improvements. This first phase improves travel choices with new carpool lanes on Interstate 5 (I-5) from Lomas Santa Fe in Solana Beach to SR 78 in Oceanside; increases efficiency and reliability of the rail corridor with two double tracking projects across the San Elijo and Batiquitos Lagoons; and restores a coastal lagoon and hundreds of acres of sensitive habitat. 

What alternative modes of transportation are planned as part of the NCC Program?

Caltrans and SANDAG are working to significantly improve transit service along the NCC. Approximately $1 billion in rail improvements are planned along the San Diego segment of the LOSSAN coastal rail corridor. There are currently more than ten rail improvement projects under development with a 15-year goal to double track 97 percent of the LOSSAN coastal rail corridor from Orange County to Downtown San Diego. To date, approximately two-thirds of the San Diego segment has been double tracked, which allows two trains traveling in opposite directions to pass without slowing down or stopping — increasing efficiency and reliability.

Additionally, the NCC Program accommodates a future bus rapid transit line along the coastal communities. 

The NCC Program also will improve bike and pedestrian paths throughout the corridor, providing needed trail connections to transit centers and coastal destinations. 

For example, a new separated bike path on the west side of I-5 will connect the Sorrento Valley COASTER Station and the UC San Diego area. Incorporated into the 27-mile North Coast Bike Trail will be new bike and pedestrian paths connecting and closing gaps in the existing network of trails along the corridor.

What will be done to protect environmental resources along the NCC corridor?

The NCC Program will preserve, protect, and enhance coastal habitat and improve water quality in the corridor’s six lagoons. Efforts are underway to protect several hundred acres of sensitive habitats in the corridor, and preservation sites have already been purchased through a unique mitigation program. Some of the resource enhancement measures include:

The construction of longer rail and highway bridges over lagoons will improve tidal flow and overall lagoon health; additional restoration will be funded. 

Minimizing impacts to sensitive coastal habitats by implementing rail and freeway improvements in tandem when in close proximity to lagoon areas.

Improving water quality through natural landscape features such as detention basins and bioswales, which are designed to filter runoff prior to reaching wetlands.

How much will the NCC Program cost?

The NCC Program represents a $6 billion investment in the region that will be paid for through a combination of federal, state, and local funds. The NCC Program is part of TransNet, the voter approved, regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG.

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