A Local Resident’s Take on the New SR-56 Bike Path Extension

As someone who’s called Rancho Penasquitos home for years, I’ve seen plenty of changes around here. The latest one, though, might just be the most practical: the SR-56 bike path extension. This project has been in the works for quite a while, and it’s finally open, promising a safer and more comfortable option for getting around.

This $4 million extension adds a dedicated bike and pedestrian path under Interstate 5. It connects the SR-56 Bike Path with the North Coast Bike Trail, Coastal Rail Trail, and the Sorrento Valley Transit Station. Plus, it links to an improved park-and-ride at Old Sorrento Valley Road and Carmel Valley Road. Essentially, it’s making it easier for us to get from point A to point B without relying solely on cars.

On May 23, we had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate. Local and state officials were there, and a group of cyclists wasted no time trying out the new trail. It was great to see people already benefiting from it.

Chloé Lauer from the San Diego Bicycle Coalition summed up what many of us feel: “We honor and appreciate anyone involved in bringing this project to life. Thank you for your tireless efforts over what we know are many, many decades and thank you to each and every one of you for your commitment to making cycling a mainstream, safe and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation.”

Before the extension, the bike path stopped short about 200 feet from I-5, turning into a rough dirt track. Now, it goes an extra 860 feet, smoothly connecting to regional bike networks. The path is marked with bright yellow paint, and another 400 feet of rehabilitated road links to the park-and-ride, making the ride much smoother.

The new trail also looks nice, with split rail wooden fencing and landscaping that match the rest of the Marvin Gerst Trail through Carmel Valley. Caltrans even took the time to clean up the graffiti under the overpass, which is a welcome change.

Allan Kosup from Caltrans put it well: “This one has been a long time coming. This was the hardest thing to do, this was the cork in the bottle.” He and the team managed to get through numerous delays and one of San Diego’s rainiest seasons to complete the project, funded by state and local developer funds.

Joe LaCava, District 1 San Diego City Council President Pro Tem, highlighted the practical benefits: “With its completion, our commuting and recreational bike riders can steer clear of the I-5 on and off ramp, steer clear of the Carmel Valley Road segment that was so dangerous and so awful, and make their ride safer and more efficient.”

Paloma Aguirre, mayor of Imperial Beach and a California Coastal Commission representative, noted: “Providing alternative transportation options gives residents and visitors in our North County Coastal communities an opportunity to further appreciate the beauty of our beaches, offshore reefs, and marinas along their journey.”

In short, the SR-56 bike path extension is a welcome addition to our neighborhood. It’s not just about cycling; it’s about making our community a bit more connected and environmentally friendly. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s worth a visit.

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