Highway 56 History
1958 - present
|Highway 56 first appeared in the 1958 Master
Plan for Freeways and Expressways of San Diego County, along with other projects such as
Interstates 5 and 15, and Highway 52. It was to play a significant role in the
County's transportation network as it was planned as the only east-west freeway connection
between Highway 78 to the north and Highway 52 to the south. However, due to a variety of
factors ranging from a lack of funding to community opposition, its construction was
delayed for well over 30 years.
In 1972, the route was deleted from the Regional Transportation Improvement Program, although it was later restored. During the planning and development of Rancho Peñasquitos and nearby areas in East County and later Carmel Valley, provisions were made for the future freeway. In fact, much of the development was based on the freeway being built to accommodate the increased traffic. An example of this is that Highway 56 is incorporated into the East Peñasquitos Community Plan.
By the late 1980s, Highway 56 was well on the way to being built. The passage of Measure C, the TransNet tax, gave the project partial funding, at least on the two ends. The eastern end was completed in 1993 and the western end was finished at the end of 1994. Construction of the I-5 / I-805 interchange began in 1995 and is slated for completion in 2005-06. A large part of this project is the construction of two of the four ramps that will connect the western leg of Highway 56 with I-5 south. There are plans to add two additional ramps for a direct connection with I-5 north, but that remains far in the future.
In 1996, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved $20.7 million to fund the completion of the middle leg. This was an unexpected source since this money was originally slated for [County] Highway 680. This road was to be a link between Rancho Bernardo and Encinitas, going parallel to Highway 56, but about 10 miles to the north. The Board of Supervisors killed this road on February 3, 1994 due mostly to opposition from the City of Encinitas. Despite this funding, Highway 56 is still $10 million short of full funding.
The intention of SR-56 is to relieve traffic from I-15 and Highway 52, as well as Mira Mesa Blvd, Miramar Rd, and Del Dios Highway. All of these routes are heavily congested and have a Level of Service (LOS) of E or below during peak rush hours. In other words, imagine you completed a project and got an "F" on it. This signifies the performance of these roads. It is planned that this traffic will be diverted to I-5, taking advantage of the interchange improvements with I-805.
In July 2003, the closing of the gap came one mile closer to completion with the opening of a one mile segment between Black Mountain Road and Camino del Sur (formerly Camino Ruiz). This left the four mile section between Carmel Valley Road and Camino del Sur. On July 19, 2004, the final leg was opened to vehicular traffic, finally making SR-56 continuous after almost 12 years since the start of construction.Last Update: July 18, 2004
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