The Coast News Group
El Portal project
The Encinitas City Council approved a $13 million railroad undercrossing off El Portal street. Courtesy rendering

Encinitas, SANDAG to begin construction on undercrossing project next week

ENCINITAS — Construction for the $12.1 million El Portal Undercrossing project in Encinitas will begin next week, city officials announced today, marking a pivotal milestone to improve public safety and enhance access to biking and walking paths in Old Encinitas.

The project features a new rail bridge, pathways and retaining walls, allowing access to businesses, schools, the coastline and neighborhoods between Vulcan Avenue and North Coast Highway 101.

“Providing safe and legal ways for the community to cross the railroad tracks is a top priority for the city of Encinitas,” said Catherine Blakespear, San Diego Association of Governments vice chair and mayor of Encinitas.

“This project will provide a direct route for residents west of the railroad to a local elementary school and popular farmer’s market. It also connects residents east of the tracks with the beach, the businesses along
Highway 101, and public transportation. I’m really excited to be breaking ground on another great biking and walking project, which could serve as a regional model for mobility improvements,” Blakespear said.

The El Portal Undercrossing is one of several railroad undercrossing locations planned in Encinitas. It has been designed in conjunction with the adjacent Leucadia Streetscape project which will construct roadway, pedestrian and bicycle improvements to North Coast Highway 101 just west of the El Portal Undercrossing.

Encinitas’ first railway undercrossing at Santa Fe Drive is 1.5 miles south of El Portal and opened in 2013. The El Portal Undercrossing and Leucadia Streetscape projects are intended to integrate with future projects, including railroad double-tracking and Coastal Rail Trail projects.

Construction work includes an undercrossing to provide pedestrians and cyclists a safe way to cross the railroad tracks. Other projects include the construction of ADA-compliant sidewalks and improvements to control erosion and flooding during the rainy season. Enhancements to native landscaping will feature community-inspired art and design features to encapsulate the history of Encinitas.

“This crossing will be transformational for our community, providing another safe and legal way for people to cross the railroad corridor, making it easier to reach the beach or businesses along Highway 101 on foot or by bike, or to school or the farmers market if they live on the west side of the tracks,” said Tony Kranz, NCTD Board Chair and Encinitas Councilmember.

Normal construction hours will take place Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All site work will be conducted in adherence to environmental protocols and COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The El Portal Undercrossing Project is expected to be complete in spring 2022 and was funded by Encinitas and California’s Active Transportation Program.