COAST CITIES — The traffic bottleneck on State Route 78 near Interstate 15 is expected to loosen up with the completion of a $41 million project to replace Nordahl Road Bridge and a $1.3 million project to reconfigure the Nordahl and Montiel Road intersection.Traffic in and around the State Route 78 and Interstate Highway15 interchange ranks among the most congested in San Diego County, leading to major shopping areas with Costco, the Nordahl Marketplace – home to Wal-Mart and Kohl’s – and the newly-built Palomar Medical Center. The expanded Nordahl Bridge and Nordahl Road improvements, which include a new entrance to Nordahl Marketplace, provide congestion relief just in time for the holidays at one of inland North County’s busiest shopping destinations.
However, work to improve SR 78 will continue. The widening of eastbound SR 78 is expected to be complete in spring 2013. An eastbound lane is being added between Woodland Parkway and Nordahl Road, and two additional lanes are being added from the Barham Drive on-ramp to the end of the Nordahl Road off-ramp. The westbound widening was finished in spring 2012.
Since the bridge replacement project began in February, crews have been working around the clock on an accelerated schedule to finish construction by early November. Demolition of the existing bridge and construction of the new bridge occurred in two phases to allow portions of the bridge to remain open to traffic and pedestrians throughout construction.
The new bridge is wider, taller and ready to accommodate future SR 78 widening and carpool lanes underneath the bridge. The height has been raised to provide a vertical clearance of 16-feet, 6-inches, up from 14-feet, 9-inches (the lowest clearance along SR 78). The bridge also was lengthened from 193 feet to 234 feet.
To minimize vehicles stacking up and blocking the through lanes, additional turn pockets have been added to SR 78 on-ramps and off-ramps at Nordahl Road.
Meanwhile, the city of San Marcos has reconfigured the intersection of Nordahl and Montiel roads and built a new signalized entrance to Nordahl Marketplace farther away from Nordahl Bridge to reduce traffic backup. The city also has repaved Nordahl Road.
The SR 78 improvements are funded by a mix of local, state, and federal dollars. TransNet, a regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG, provided $15.5 million. The city of San Marcos contributed $6.75 million, and the city of Escondido contributed $4.75 million. Caltrans provided $14.1 million through the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP).