CARLSBAD (CNS) - More than 50 acres of land alongside the Batiquitos Lagoon that had been slated for development was purchased by the San Diego Association of Governments, which will preserve it as open space, the regional planning agency announced Tuesday. 

SANDAG and Caltrans spent $6 million on a 47-acre property at La Costa Avenue, near El Camino Real, where a 19-unit housing development was going to be built, and a 3.5-acre piece of land across La Costa Avenue.

"The preservation of the Batiquitos Bluffs property is just the beginning of our efforts to enhance the environment and quality of life in the I-5 corridor," said Jack Dale, chairman of SANDAG and a Santee councilman.

"Over the life of the North Coast Corridor Program, we expect to spend $250 million to preserve and restore sensitive coastal habitat and improve coastal access at the same time as we build transportation improvements to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions," Dale said.

The purchase was designed to offset potential future environmental damage from projects meant to improve Interstate 5, nearby rail lines and mass transit.

The property will eventually be transferred to a conservation and land management organization to ensure effective stewardship of the land, according to SANDAG.