Members of North County volunteer action group P.L.A.G.U.E (Prevent Los Angeles Gridlock Usurping Environment) hopes to spread their objections to a three- to four-billion-dollar Caltrans proposal to broaden Interstate 5 by a total of 22 lanes from Genessee Avenue in La Jolla to Oceanside. The group, consisting of 15-20 North County residents, is organizing town hall meetings. At their last meeting on January 13, however, nearly 50 people showed support.
P.L.A.G.U.E members are hanging flyers on doors throughout North County and plan to set up booths outside grocery stores as a way to collect money to pay for the three outside attorneys they hired to fight the project.
"We were told the project would be the largest project ever in the state," said Noel Spaid, P.L.A.G.U.E. chair and Del Mar resident whose housing development would be directly underneath a large "flyover" connecting State Road 56 to Interstate 5. The flyover is not part of the Interstate 5 widening project, though Spaid hopes that Caltrans will combine both proposals into one, so that residents can see the potential impacts the proposals could have on North County communities.
Fearing that they might one day stare up at the underside of a large freeway overpass, residents of Del Mar Villas have donated $17,000 to P.L.A.G.U.E.'s fight against the I-5 expansion.
"We aren't getting any information from Caltrans about what the different proposals are going to be, though it seems like they are promoting the most dramatic and draconian proposal of them all."
"They are making this into a concrete jungle," added Spaid during a January 22 phone interview. "When you build freeways bigger, more cars will come and things end up the same in five years. It is not a 21st-century plan at all. Los Angeles has been doing this for 40 years. It is a concrete jungle and it looks horrible.
"The vast majority of people I talk to are in shock about the proposal," said Spaid. "We are not denying there is congestion. We are jut saying that this isn't the right solution."
The group is promoting ideas that involve better mass transit such as busses and high-speed rail as solutions to the increasing congestion in I-5.
For more on P.L.A.G.U.E. and to find out when they will hold another town hall meeting, visit their website at i-5plague.com.