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SAN DIEGO — It’s a big day for drivers in North County as nine miles of new carpool lanes along Interstate 5 have now opened after the project took five years to complete.

A special ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday to commemorate the significant occasion followed by speeches given by San Diego Association of Governments Chair and Mayor of Encinitas Catherine Blakespear, Caltrans District 11 Director Gustavo Dallarda and Mayor of Solana Beach Leesa Heebner.

The new lanes include one northbound and one southbound, which go between Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach and Palomar Airport Drive in Carlsbad. A previous portion was finished along I-5 from La Jolla Village Drive to the I-5/Interstate 805 interchange.

Construction on the next stretch of carpool lanes started in October 2021, that will continue north in Carlsbad to Interstate 78 interchange in Oceanside.

The new carpool lanes are part of the North Coast Corridor Program. Those apart of it say the lanes are essential to giving San Diegans more time to spend with their loved ones and less time stuck in gridlock. They’re also meant to reduce freeway congestion. 

Construction of all the projects is expected to cost more than $6 billion and continue through year 2050. The money is said to be coming from a variety of federal, state and local sources, including the half-cent sales tax.