SAN DIEGO-City officials in the North County community of Oceanside say that public opposition to a freeway interchange on state Route 78 that’s crucial to the future of commercial development will likelydelay the project for several years.

The city needs an interchange at Rancho del Oro Drive to serve the area’sblossoming development, which includes the proposed $1.2-billion office campus byIdec Pharmaceuticals. But local opposition to the project has resulted in adecision by Caltrans to conduct a full environmental impact study–a processthat will take at least three and possibly five years, city planners say.

The city has been wrapping up its own environmental studies and was expected tounveil a draft report in October, hoping to break ground on the new interchange within only two years. The decision by state transportation officials to conduct a new impact report will prevent the project from moving forward until mid-2005, says Public Works Director Peter Weiss.

Added studies will also probably triple the price tag of the $12 millionproject, city officials say.

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