The Ted Williams Highway (State Route 56 (SR 56)) runs from Interstate 5 in the Carmel Valley neighborhood of San Diego to Interstate 15.
Project Type:Connector Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:110,146 Length (mi):9.70
Economic Distress:1.67 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):702 Population Growth Rate (%):0.54
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.25 Market Size:1,094,379 Airport Travel Distance:20.45 Topography:21
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:CA County:San Diego
City:San Diego Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:San Diego
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:32.952934 / -117.137411
Initial Study Date:1992 Post Constr. Study Date:2006
Constr. Start Date:1992 Constr. End Date:2004
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2004 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):220,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):271,310,429
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||31.01||26.67||57.68|
|Output (in $M's)||77.08||66.29||143.37|
Planned for more than 30 years, the completion of SR 56, the Ted Williams Highway allowed for development of the 2,652-acre Pacific Highlands Ranch Community in the North City Future Area of San Diego. The $226 million project has enabled construction of more than 1,500 housing units with capacity for several thousand more in the future. It was also instrumental in attracting a 500-employee software company to the area.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
California SR 56 is a 9-mile highway that connects I-5 and I-15 in the northern part of San Diego County. It is named in honor of the Red Sox baseball hero who was born in San Diego. As originally planned in the 1960's, the highway would have continued approximately 5 miles east to SR-67; however, opposition from the town of Poway defeated that portion of the highway.
Historically, San Diego County has had excellent north-south transportation connections, while east-west connections have been lacking despite virtual build-out in coastal communities and rapid population growth eastward. Prior to the completion of the Ted Williams Highway, SR 52 to the south, and SR 78 to the north were the North County region's main east-west highways, with a 30 mile gap between them.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The highway runs through an environmentally sensitive portion of San Diego County, anchored at the western end by Class A office space, pockets of light industrial, and high end planned developments. The eastern end is characterized by single- and multi-family planned developments, significant industrial and office space, and community and regional-serving retail.
Over the past 30 years, San Diego has experienced rapid growth. Some 60% of the region's housing units were built after 1970, yet due to land use controls throughout the various county jurisdictions, housing growth did not keep up with population growth. Prices skyrocketed and development pushed out into eastern, largely unincorporated areas.
The 2,652-acre Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Planning Area, north of SR 56, is close to important employment centers along I-5 and I-15, yet nestled between Torrey Highlands and Rancho Penasquitos to the east and Carmel Valley and the North City Future Urbanizing Area to the west. Lacking connecting arterial roadways, it was essentially an island. As such, it was statutorily limited to low density residential development (approximately 10 acres per dwelling unit), with higher density residential and supporting retail and employment development contingent upon completion of SR 56.
As rapid employment and population growth continued through the 1990s and into the new century, pushing housing costs higher and making commutes longer, pressure mounted for residential development in Pacific Highlands Ranch. Plans for the highway were first drawn up in the 1960s and the completion of the Ted Williams Highway was considered an eventuality. However, the timing of its completion was a matter of resolving disparate stakeholder interests. A 4-mile segment at the western end between I-5 to Carmel Valley Road and a 2-mile segment on the eastern end from Black Mountain Road to I-15 were completed in 1994. However, the remaining 5-mile gap prevented the highway from providing access to Pacific Highlands Ranch and from accommodating through traffic linking residential areas in the east with employment centers on the coast.
Completion of the middle segment required reconciling demands from environmental groups concerned by the disruption of habitat and migratory corridors with the goals of smart growth planners trying to meet the regional need for higher density housing. Once stakeholders were able to agree on an acceptable alignment, funding presented an additional stumbling block. By the time the project was ready to move forward, construction costs had skyrocketed, leaving the $220 million project $6 million short. In the end, the developer Pardee Homes contributed the funds to bridge the gap and the highway was complete in July, 2004.
Despite completion of the highway, it is not yet fully integrated into the regional transportation system as two necessary connector ramps with I-5 are not yet in place and travelers must use surface streets to make these transfers. The necessary ramps are under study by the California Department of Transportation, and expected to be built by 2012.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The completion of SR 56 has increased traffic in the Carmel Valley Planning Area at the I-5 end of the corridor. Some of the increase is due to the missing connector ramps which route through traffic onto city streets. However, the majority of new trips are commuters living in eastern communities traveling to employment centers along I-5.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Because the highway was considered a certainty for so long, land values are largely thought to have incorporated the presence of the transportation asset long before it was completed. Though land values and housing prices continued to increase rapidly in the study area, this was clearly a result of a strong regional economy and the overall desirability of coastal San Diego.
Nonetheless, SR 56 had significant impacts on local economic and land use patterns. First, it allowed planned residential developments to proceed in the Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Planning Area at much higher densities than the previous 1 unit per 10 acres. The community is mostly zoned for residential densities of 2.1-5 dwelling units per acre (du/acre), but includes pockets of "Peripheral Residential" at 5 to 9 du/acre, and even a "Core Residential" area near the community's elementary school and civic center zoned for 9.1-14 du/acre. Before the completion of SR 56, there were just 63 housing units in the planning area. Since 2004, the community added more than 1,500 single family units and approximately 490 multi-family units. With the zoning allowed by the completion of SR 56, the area can accommodate a total of more than 5,100 housing units. Additional construction is underway, although it is being phased in more slowly due to the slump in the housing market.
The project had a more limited impact on employment. One software company brought approximately 500 new employees to San Diego County to a site along I-5 near SR 56 at the west end of the corridor. The SR 56 connection to labor markets to the east was a pivotal factor in their decision. Build-out of an office complex at the east end of the corridor was accelerated due to the completion of the highway, though the project was permitted and underway before SR 56 plans were finalized. Thus, jobs at this complex are not directly attributable to the facility.
The Ted Williams Highway was constructed in a high growth area. Soaring housing prices reflect the unmet demand in the area, with the strong market a significant factor supporting the residential development that has occurred in the corridor. Further, planning agencies had recognized that the corridor could support the development of needed housing, and worked to adopt zoning that would allow housing at higher densities to go forward.
The long-term impacts of the Ted Williams Highway may not be realized until the construction of two ramps connecting the highway with I-5. These should be completed by 2012.
Del Mar Mesa Planning Group
National University System Institute for Policy Research (former CEO of San Diego EDC)
Case Study Developed by Economic Development Research Group, Inc.