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A cyclist peddles on Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia. Funding was recently approved for the Encinitas rail trail to give pedestrians and cyclists a separated path to peddle up the coast. While many were in support of the Encinitas coastal rail trail, they also worried about fencing associated with the project during a community meeting last week. Photo by Jared Whitlock
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Residents raise concerns about fencing for Encinitas rail trail

ENCINITAS — During an open house last week introducing the Encinitas “rail trail,” reoccurring worries about fencing cropped up. 

In September, the SANDAG board of directors approved funding for the local rail trail — a citywide path alongside the train tracks for cyclists and pedestrians. Many at the meeting welcomed the project, but also brought concerns over NCTD requiring fencing near portions of the rail trail.

Resident John Gjata said fencing could block people from crossing the train tracks to access the coast.

“That’s going to be a big hurdle you’re facing, because right now, they may not be legal crossings, but they are de facto crossings that people use every day all along the corridor,” Gjata said.

Chris Carterette, active transportation planner with SANDAG, said the location and need for fencing hasn’t been determined. But he hopes to minimize it.

“My goal is to have the project designed and constructed with as little fencing as possible, and to keep the path as far away from the tracks as possible,” Carterette said.

Carterette noted that NCTD, the railway owner, would rule on the need for fencing for rail trail that runs near the tracks. Recently, after negotiations, NCTD agreed to a small fence for the city’s first constructed sliver of rail trail near the Santa Fe pedestrian undercrossing.

“It would be my hope if in the event we’re required to construct (fencing), it would be like that,” Carterette said.

rail trail
A tentative map of the first portion of the Encinitas rail trail. Image courtesy of SANDAG

Several residents commented that the Santa Fe fencing is more aesthetically pleasing than previous plans calling for a tall chain link fence near the rail trail, but added that they’d prefer fencing to be avoided altogether to protect beach access.

Beyond fencing, the transit planners and residents discussed other matters related to the rail trail during the meeting.

Chris Kluth, active transportation program manager with SANDAG, said the rail trail is about getting people of all ages to walk and bike by giving them a safe route to do so.

A tentative map at the meeting illustrated the rail trail running east of the tracks and dipping west toward Coast Highway 101 in Cardiff.

Resident Catherine Blakespear said the rail trail aims to “take everyday people to everyday places.” Thus, she said perhaps the rail trail shouldn’t “dump into busy” Coast Highway 101.

“I think the experience you’re trying to create and the reason you’re building the bike path is so that people can go places and they don’t feel in danger,” Blakespear said.

Two residents brought up the issue of lighting for the rail trail. And in response, Carterette said it hasn’t been decided whether that would be necessary.

The Encinitas rail trail will be built in four segments. The meeting last week focused on the first portion: Chesterfield Drive to E Street.

The rail trail will be concrete and 14 feet wide in most sections, but as narrow as 8 to 10 feet in others. Most of the trail will go east of the railroad tracks, though planning is in the early stages, SANDAG officials have stated.

$11.9 million from SANDAG’s Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program will pay for the rail trail from the Solana Beach city limits to Leucadia Boulevard.

The early action program is funded by TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation that was approved by county voters.

The segment from Leucadia Boulevard to the southern tip of Carlsbad is expected to cost $6.6 million. SANDAG and the city have yet to identify funding to cover the expense; that portion wasn’t included in the Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program funding.

If all goes as planned, construction would begin on the Chesterfield Drive to E Street portion in two years. The entire Encinitas rail trail could be finished by 2023, though that’s a loose timeline.

SANDAG envisions the rail trail one day covering the Santa Fe depot in downtown San Diego to Oceanside.

Future community workshops dates on the Encinitas rail trail haven’t been set.



Chris Rowan November 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Motorists don’t own the lanes so there’s nothing to return. Exactly opposite of Lynn Marr’s exaggerated tranportapocolypse rhetoric, roundabouts added character, slowed but didn’t clog traffic and improved neighborhood businesses in Birdrock, a community with quite similar character. Furthermore, I believe tourist traffic would increase due to the less frenetic pace that roundabouts create.

Lynn Marr November 23, 2013 at 10:16 pm

People who live adjacent to or commute on Highway 101, from A Street to La Costa, are disappointed that the plans extend ONLY from Chesterfield north to E Street.

If the railtrail corridor along the RR tracks, just east of Highway 101, were to extend THROUGH LEUCADIA, that would eliminate any rationalization for one-laning northbound and southbound 101 from A St to La Costa Ave. Four planned one-lane, three-way intersection roundabouts, adjacent to the RR tracks, would have less safety features, due to their narrow diameters.

Multiple one-lane roundabouts would change our Historic Highway 101 from a major roadway, primary circulation element, main arterial, into a nightmare, Disneyesque “Autopia,” creating a series of obstructions, 15 MPH bottlenecks, one after another, with only one lane northbound and one lane southbound.

During peak periods, adjacent residents and local commuters would be caught in gridlock. The roundabouts would HURT the businesses on the west side of the highway (none are on the east, due to the RR), during their construction, and after. Motorists, including tourists, would begin to avoid touring up and down Pacific Coast Highway, through Leucadia, because of these obstructionist roundabouts.

Traffic cutting through residential/recreational, beach access/egress neighborhoods would increase. Subpar emergency response times would be further slowed. The roundabouts have NOT been “thoroughly vetted” by Peltz and Associates workshops, which provided surveys with unbalanced questions, and which gathered data that was tweaked and not accurately and honestly quantified and qualified. Push polls are not statistically significant. Peltz and Associates are roundabout lobbyists, traveling the country, pushing this “trend,” which locals, here, do not want or need on Hwy 101.

Please, find funding for the railtrail corridor from Chesterfield all the way to La Costa, along Highway 101, so that residents and local commuters can have our northbound lane returned to us. A lane for northbound motorists on Hwy. 101, through Leucadia, was eliminated in February of this year, illegally, without the City’s first going through environmental review mandated by Coastal Act Law. All of this funding should be predicated on studies showing how many people are using bicycle lanes to commute, and for recreational purposes.

My husband and I do support bicyclists, wholeheartedly. We bicycle ourselves! A railtrail corridor is a wonderful idea. Most pedestrians North of A St. will be walking on the beach or along the bluffs. There would not be many pedestrians walking on the east side of Highway 101, as all the businesses are on the west side of the highway. But the bicyclists would greatly benefit by having both northbound and southbound dedicated bicycle lanes, in the RR right of way, REMOVED from the highway.

Nationwide, statistics show that when roundabouts are shared by motorists and bicycles, particularly one lane roundabouts, collisions increase, compared to those same intersections before roundabouts were installed.

KLCC=Keep Leucadia’s Community Character!

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