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SR-78 closure and traffic impacts

If you’ve driven on the SR-78 lately, you have seen firsthand the size and scale of response efforts needed to complete an emergency repair. In this case, it’s Caltrans in the driver’s seat. So, what happened?

  • During heavy rain, soil can get washed away under pipes and roads.

  • Unfortunately, you often don’t know this is happening until the void becomes too big to support the infrastructure above and a sinkhole appears.

  • When fixing one such “culvert” under the 78 following a recent storm, Caltrans quickly discovered several more in need of shoring up.

  • The good news is that by working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they were able to complete the work on the north side of the 78 in about 21 days when it would have otherwise taken six to nine months, according to Caltrans.

  • They’re now working on the south side (eastbound).

  • Caltrans estimates eastbound SR-78 could be closed for up to three weeks between El Camino Real and College Boulevard while they complete the repairs.

Local impacts

We can expect continued heavy traffic around the intersection of El Camino Real and 78, so please take alternate routes if you can. City staff is working in coordination with Caltrans, the City of Oceanside, and the City of Vista to monitor the changes in traffic patterns and make adjustments to help ease congestion on newly impacted routes while still striving to maintain traffic flow along primary corridors. Local roadways are not able to absorb the increased vehicle traffic without some additional congestion and delay. A few tips to consider:

  • We should also expect heavier than normal traffic throughout Carlsbad as drivers find alternate east-west routes, like Carlsbad Village Drive, Cannon, College, Faraday and especially Palomar Airport Road and Rancho Santa Fe Road.

  • We ask that drivers exercise patience as Caltrans completes their emergency repair work. Please leave extra time to get where you need to go. Remember, speeding is one of the main causes of collisions in Carlsbad.

  • Eliminate distractions and put your phone away.

  • Look out for and yield to pedestrians.

  • Share the road with cyclists. Give them the space they need to ride safely.

Time to construct a new commute?

It might be time to turn SR-78 lemons into commuter lemonade. Carlsbad Commuter programs and services are perfect for times just like these. Here are a few easy ways to use our simple four Rs:

  • RETIME: Consider flexing your arrival and departure times at your work site to avoid the peak periods in that corridor.

  • REROUTE: Sometimes we need to go off the beaten path. You may have gone the same way to work for years now and never needed to try Waze or Google Maps for help in finding a less congested way. Give it a shot.

  • REMODE: Finding a new way of getting to work may not save you time in this case, but you’ll for sure save money and stress. Check out our online tool to help you find a super convenient carpool partner or other sustainable mode choices.

  • REDUCE: If you can work from home, consider flexing which days you work from home to avoid the more congested days.

A few helpful links:

Want to see the latest Caltrans construction notices, real-time traffic and road closure information? Toggle on what you need to see using this map.

Need to report a local Carlsbad roadway, sidewalk, or bike lane maintenance issue?


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