Traffic congestion on state Route 78 near Interstate 15 - and the new Palomar Medical Center in North County - is expected to ease with the recent opening of the newly expanded Nordahl Bridge and other road improvements.
Traffic in and around the SR78/I15 interchange in San Marcos near Escondido long has ranked among the most congested in San Diego County.
The bridge replacement project began in February and is considered a vital link to the new Palomar Medical Center, which opened in August.
“Your new PMC is open and is available to provide high quality care to the residents of the communities here in the North County. However the ability to get that great care is only as good as your ability to get to the hospital,” Palomar Medical Center Chief Administrative Officer Gerald Bracht said during a news conference near the Nordahl Bridge on Tuesday.
“Time remains that single critical factor whether it’s a trauma, whether it’s a stroke or whether it’s a heart attack that a patient might be having,” Bracht said.
“I recall over nine years ago speaking to first responders and paramedics as we were contemplating different sites where we would build this new state of the art hospital.
“The comments that I received from those folks repeatedly was ‘Gerald just make sure that you provide good access. In fact two access points would be ideal for us. That way if one is impeded then we have another one to get there.’ They were looking for clear direct access to the hospital.
“With this expansion here today, this new off ramp will provide that northern access for us. We’re very, very grateful for that,” Bracht said.
Bracht was among several North County officials who spoke during the news conference, which was held in the parking lot of a shopping center in San Marcos that overlooked both then new hospital and the Nordahl Bridge.
Bracht thanked the cities of San Marcos, Escondido as well as the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) for pooling resources and “coming together to make this project happen.”
He also reminded Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, who was also one of the speakers, that “we still need the southern access,” referring to the city of Escondido’s planned expansion of Citracado Parkway, where the new Palomar Medical Center is located.