The interchange joining California 52 and Interstate 5 from on top of Mount Soledad. A small park, located off La Jolla Scenic Drive, allows visitors to look east and down on Rose Canyon and San Clemente Canyon. Interstate 5 passes through Rose Canyon, while California 52 travels east through San Clemente Canyon (part of Marian Bear Park). In the distance, the snow-capped Laguna Mountains frame a beautiful vista. Photos taken 02/27/11.

California 52 is the Soledad Freeway, starting at Interstate 5 at the foot of Mount Soledad in Rose Canyon and ending at California 67 in Santee. California 52 begins at the confluence of La Jolla Parkway and Interstate 5 and travels east through San Clemente Canyon to Interstate 805. At Interstate 805, the freeway climbs out of San Clemente Canyon, headed to the top of the old Miramar Landfill and adjacent to the current landfill. The freeway was constructed on top of the original landfill, and as such, the freeway undulates (dips) as the trash settles beneath it. At Convoy Street, motorists may reach the expanded Miramar Landfill for refuse disposal. California 52 continues east from here as an eight-lane facility, with two lanes exiting for California 163, Kearny Villa Road (Former U.S. 395), and Interstate 15. The mainline continues east, narrowing to six lanes as it passes through the Mission Trails Regional Park (widened from four to six lanes in 2008-2009). The freeway leaves the city of San Diego and enters the city of Santee near Mast Boulevard. Until March 2011, California 52 ended at its transition into southbound California 125, but the freeway is extended to California 67 through Santee as part of the Sunnyside Gateway Project.

California 52 Highway Guides

According to a Caltrans State Route 52 Brochure http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist11/facts/SR-52brochure.pdf, the extension of California 52 through Santee is known as the Sunnyside Gateway Project. Land acquisition for this new segment of freeway between California 125 and California 67 began in August 2002. After environmental studies and design were completed, construction began in 2007. The project cost $255 million and features four direct access, flyover ramps (75 feet tall) at the California 52-67 interchange. Originally, plans called for a staggered opening of freeway (by opening the first segment between California 125 and Cuyamaca Street first), but officials decided instead to open the entire freeway at one time.1,2,3

Once funding for the project was secured, the freeway was intended to open in December 2010. The date was previously moved back as a result of weather conditions and changes to the construction contract.2,3 With no further complications, the extension of California 52 east to California 67 in Santee opened on March 29, 2011.4,5

The San Diego Association of Governments, in conjunction with the city of Santee, hosted a grand opening celebration for the California State Route 52 extension on March 19, 2011. The new concrete lanes lengthened the freeway east from SR 125 to SR 67.

Long-term plans call for expansion of California 52 to include high occupancy managed lanes between Interstate 15 and California 52. Similar facilities are planned for other busy segments of freeway in San Diego County, with Interstate 15 between California 163 and California 78 being the first to receive managed lanes.

California 52 has been built in stages, initially between Interstate 5 and Interstate 805 and gradually extending east, with the final segment open (between California 125 and California 67) on March 29, 2011.

Key Opening Dates of California 52 freeway sections:

  • La Jolla Parkway (former Ardath Road) to Interstate 5 - May 28, 1970
  • Interstate 5 Separation to Ayar Overhead - December 23, 1966
  • Ayar Overhead to Genesee Road Undercrossing - May 28, 1970
  • Genesee Road Undercrossing to Interstate 805 Separation - March 22, 1972
  • Interstate 805 Separation to San Clemente Creek - July 28, 1987
  • San Clemente Creek to Convoy Street - July 28, 1987 (widened August 5th, 1994)
  • Convoy Street to California 163 - June 30, 1988 (widened August 5th, 1994)
  • California 163 to Interstate 15 - June 30, 1988
  • Interstate 15 - April 4, 1988
  • Interstate 15 to Santo Road - April 4, 1988 (widened December 17, 1993 and again in 2009)
  • Santo Road to San Diego River - December 17, 1993
  • San Diego River to California 125 - May 15, 1998
  • California 125 to California 67 - March 29, 2011

C.J. Moon provided assistance in compiling the historical chronology for California 52.

This view looks northeast at California 52 in San Clemente Canyon (Marian Bear Natural Park) toward the diamond interchange (Exit 1) with Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Regents Road interchange. Photos taken 10/28/04.


California 52 scenes
Traveling north along Clairemont Mesa Boulevard prior to changing into Regents Road in San Clemente Canyon, these overhead signs direct motorists to the SR 52 freeway. Photo taken 10/28/04.
The button copy sign for SR 52 west reveals a label scar for Ardath Road. Ardath Road is the former name for what is now La Jolla Parkway west of Interstate 5. Photo taken 10/28/04.
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2 photos
Westbound Mission Gorge Road at California 125 south to Chula Vista and California 52 west. Photo taken 03/19/11. Second photo taken 03/31/07.
Mission Gorge Road east at the exchange with SR 52 and SR 125 in Santee. Construction to extend SR 52 east to SR 67 was ongoing at the time. Photo taken 03/28/09.
La Jolla Parkway (formerly Ardath Road) ties into the eastbound beginning of California 52 at the exchange with Interstate 5. This four-lane expressway connects Downtown La Jolla with both freeways. Photo taken 07/27/02.
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5 photos
5 photos
5 photos
5 photos
Santo Road north at California 52. The exchange includes a direct ramp from Santo Road to the California 52 bicycle lane. Photos taken 03/25/10.
Mission Trails Regional Park
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3 photos
3 photos
Mission Trails Regional Park is a large, open space park located in San Diego and Santee south of California 52 on Mission Gorge Road. The park hosts Father Junipero Serra Trail and a campground surrounding Kumeyaay Lake. Photos taken 03/28/09.
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6 photos
6 photos
6 photos
6 photos
6 photos
The Old Mission Dam used to impound the San Diego River for the purpose of providing drinking and irrigation water for the San Diego Mission. The dam was finished between 1813 and 1816 but later fell into disrepair. A flume carried the water from this location downstream to the mission near Qualcomm Stadium. Photos taken 03/28/09.

Sources:

  1. Extension of state Route 52 in final push by Michele Clock, San Diego Union-Tribune, March 13, 2010.
  2. Route 52 work gets extension - Weather pushes completion date to 2011 by Michele Clock, San Diego Union-Tribune, April 1, 2010.
  3. Q&A: Mike Moen, lead engineer for the state Route 52 extension by Steve Schmidt, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 23, 2010.
  4. Keep San Diego Moving - State Route 52 Corridor
  5. State Route 52 through Santee is open at last: New freeway extension set to be a timesaver for East County commuters by Steve Schmidt, San Diego Union-Tribune, March 29, 2011. The segment of California 52 between California 125 and California 67 cost $525 million to build.


Photo Credits:

07/27/02, 10/28/04, 03/31/07, 03/28/09, 03/25/10, 03/19/11 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 5
Interstate 805

Page Updated 04-09-2011.