ENCINITAS — The city is beginning a lengthy process of installing two at-grade railroad crossings in Leucadia that could take years to complete.
The city has identified two locations for an at-grade crossing, one at Hillcrest Drive and another at Glaucus Street. The locations were decided during a 2019 study completed by the city’s Planning Department that consisted of several public workshops, according to the city.
“It was almost entirely resident feedback that was acquired over a one year period,” Infrastructure and Sustainability Director Lillian Doherty told The Coast News.
There have been several accidents involving pedestrians in recent years and advocates have been calling for the city to install safe rail crossings for both the safety and convenience of locals.
The city has focused much time, effort and money on the Leucadia Streetscape project but some residents have been frustrated that the large-scale project did not include rail crossings for pedestrians.
“And actually prioritize it,” Dianna Nunez of the advocacy group NOWLeucadia told The Coast News in June. “One of the components that were missing from (Leucadia) Streetscape was the connection to our community.”
This week the city held a train horn demonstration for residents to see how the new crossings would affect the noise in the area. By law, trains are required to sound their horn at all at-grade crossings.
The city says the noise complaint is the main piece of negative feedback it has received over the proposed crossings but in total it has been a “mixed bag” from residents, according to city public information officer Julie Taber.
Following the demonstration this week, the city will formulate a request for a proposal to hire a consultant to help with the drafting of a design including any other safety features that may be needed.
The draft would then be sent to the California Public Utility Commission which is “responsible for ensuring that California communities and railroad employees are protected from unsafe practices on freight and passenger railroads by enforcing state and federal rail safety rules, regulations, and inspection efforts,” according to the CPUC website.
“We anticipate that it will probably take anywhere from eight months to a year to finalize because we do need to coordinate the draft with NCTD (North Country Transit District),” Doherty said.
Doherty said the city already has a memorandum of understanding with the regional transit agency to work together on the crossings.
The final decision from the state utility commission could then take up to 18 months. Following that the city would still have to seek approval from the California Coastal Commission since the crossings sit in the coastal zone.
The city’s goal is to shave time off the timeline for completion when able but they are relying heavily on other agencies which will have their own timelines for review.
“It is entirely dependent on their willingness to work with us, get their comments back to us, so it is a little bit of a challenge,” Doherty said.