If you have caught the SR-125 from Mission Gorge Road lately, then you have had the joy of the new “merge” as Caltrans moves forward on the extension of SR-52 east to SR-67. The first couple times I ran through there it was a total mess, with people trying to beat each other to the merge, and no one willing to back off. This is especially frustrating when that sort of impolite behavior leaves you stuck in the middle of the intersection after the light turns red. But the last few times I’ve taken 125 the merge has been much easier to deal with. I attribute this to the underlying decency and politeness of Santee drivers, and the likelihood that people have quickly learned that taking turns rather than trying to be first makes it faster for everyone. So congratulations, Santee – you’re showing your good driver skills.
Now, about SR-52. We all know that 52 will extend to 67, and we all hope that it will help cut down the traffic on Mission Gorge Road and Mast Boulevard. Here is the lowdown on the construction to come. According to a report released by the Department of Transportation (i.e. Caltrans), the project will build three miles of freeway just north of and roughly parallel to Prospect Avenue. The work began last year, following the re-channelling of Forester Creek, and should be completed by late 2010. The extension of 52 will include interchanges at Fanita Drive, Cuyamaca Street, and Magnolia Avenue, and this stretch is expected to carry about 110,000 cars a day by 2025. Currently the projected cost of the project is $447 million, but we will have to wait and see how that shakes out.
I know that the next few years will still have their share of driving headaches as streets are blocked, rerouted, and otherwise jumbled to allow for the required construction, but by 2011 we should have a straight shot from 67 all the way out to I-5. That will be a nice change.