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San Elijo lagoon park & ride opens in Encinitas near I-5 freeway

ENCINITAS, Calif. — The new San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride has officially opened in Encinitas, marking the latest project in the massive Build North Coast Corridor infrastructure program to reach completion.

The San Diego Association of Governments unveiled the new $9 million activity hub on Saturday alongside local leaders, Caltrans representatives and the Nature Collective.

According to officials, the San Elijo Park & Ride will serve as a centralized location for residents and visitors to park their vehicles to access the nearby lagoon, while conveniently accessing the new Interstate 5 carpool lanes.

“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 a 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.”

Located at 2581 Via Poco, the hub will be the first Park & Ride lot in a six-mile stretch along the I-5 from Birmingham Drive to Sorrento Valley. According to SANDAG, the lack of a parking lot in this stretch has contributed to overcrowded parking in neighborhoods adjacent to the freeway.

The hub will provide 177 parking spaces to relieve this overflow, as well as bike racks and electrical vehicle charging stations to provide an accessible meeting space for visitors looking to explore the San Elijo Lagoon or surrounding areas, SANDAG officials said.

“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 a release.

The new facility also features space for a future community garden, which will be managed by the Nature Collective, and displays about the San Elijo Lagoon, including interactive signs and information about pedestrian access.

“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,” said Nature Collective Executive Director Doug Gibson. “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.”

Construction for the San Elijo Activity Hub Park & Ride is the latest project in the $987 million Build NCC program funded through state and federal sources, as well as the voter-approved half-cent sales tax — TransNet — administered by SANDAG.

Other infrastructure projects competed through the Build NCC program include the 13-mile expansion of I-5 Carpool/HOV lanes, creation of seven miles of bike and pedestrian trails and the restoration of 154 acres of wetlands within the San Elijo Lagoon.

More information on projects within the NCC program can be found on the TransNet website.

“Through transportation enhancements like these, we’re building a more connected and equitable region that will better serve individuals of all ages and abilities,” Heebner said.

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