Construction crews have made significant headway toward the completion of a project to double track 3.1 miles of coastal rail line through Carlsbad as part of a wider effort to help improve transit efficiency and expand freight and passenger travel in the region.
“Adding a second main track will significantly improve the efficiency of the coastal rail system leading to increased capacity and service,” said SANDAG Director of Mobility Jim Linthicum. “As a result, travelers will see improved reliability along the corridor.”
The Carlsbad Double Track project, led by Amtrak in collaboration with SANDAG, the North County Transit District and Caltrans, includes the construction of a second main track from Carlsbad Village Drive, south past Cannon Road and the construction of a second rail bridge over the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Construction activitiesinclude track construction, installation of new switches to allow trains to change tracks efficiently, and the installation of wiring and infrastructure to accommodate potential Quiet Zone technology in the future.
The $20.8 million project is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2012, according to Amtrak. When it’s finished, it will result in the creation of a five-mile stretch of continuous double track in Carlsbad.
“This project, combined with other future double tracking efforts, will help to improve travel times for passengers who ride the COASTER and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains,” Linthicum said. “Double tracking will permit trains to move more freely, without having to stop and wait for another train to pass.”
SANDAG officials said that because it is an active rail line, some of the track work must be conducted at night. Amtrak construction crews are working to minimize noise impacts to residents and direct lighting away from residential structures to the greatest extent possible, according to Linthicum.
At the same time, SANDAG is planning an additional one mile segment of second track that will extend north from Carlsbad Village Station. The design, engineering and environmental review process for that segment is expected to take more than two years. Construction funding has yet to be secured.
The Carlsbad Double Track project is part of a wider program of improvements planned in the North County, called the North Coast Corridor Program. In addition to rail, the program will result in the addition of Express Lanes on Interstate 5, environmental improvements to the region’s lagoons and enhanced coastal access through the addition of 23 miles of bike and pedestrian trails.
The North Coast Corridor Program includes approximately $400 million for coastal rail and transit improvements over the next five years, according to SANDAG. Approximately eight miles of the coastal rail system will be double tracked over the next 10 years, and most of the corridor from Oceanside to downtown San Diego will be double tracked over the next 20 years.
The coastal rail line in San Diego is part of the corridor called LOSSAN, Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo, which is the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the nation. Much of the 60-mile-long segment that runs through San Diego was built more than 100 years ago and is in need of improvements, according to SANDAG. Today, approximately 70 trains per day currently use the San Diego segment of the corridor.
For more information about the North Coast Corridor Program or to sign up to receive project updates, please visit KeepSanDiegoMoving.com or contact the Caltrans Public Information Office at (619) 688-6670.
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