CARLSBAD — Elected officials from Carlsbad and Encinitas and representatives from the San Diego Association of Governments and Caltrans celebrated the new Poinsettia Train Station at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 20. The station has been undergoing a massive facelift for two years.
The upgrades include a raised platform, which was also extended to 1,000 feet, an underground crossing, double tracks, security fencing between the tracks, lighting, a sound system and shade structures. The project cost $33.7 million and was funded through TransNet taxes and state sources, according to Carlsbad Councilwoman Cori Schumacher.
The station project is part of the larger Build North Coast Corridor project, which is a $6 billion, 40-year program to upgrade infrastructure. Other projects include lagoon restorations, bridge replacements, the addition of carpool lanes on Interstate 5 from Encinitas to Oceanside and bike routes.
The Poinsettia Station improvements are part of a larger inter-agency regional initiative to provide nearly $1 billion in infrastructure improvements to the San Diego segment of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor, according to SANDAG officials.
“The opening of the improvements is a huge boon to not only our business center and residents, but to our future,” Schumacher said. “This track will now hold larger locomotives … and also potentially Amtrak.”
John Haggerty, director of engineering and construction at SANDAG, said the improvements allow for the corridor to grow with future demand, while also providing needed safety measures for passengers. He said the fencing between the tracks also allows for the ability for trains to travel through the station without stopping.
He said if there were no fence, incoming trains would be required to stop so passengers could board. Additionally, the also is a preventative measure for individuals attempting to cross the tracks at grade.
Another upgrade was leveling the platform with the train so it is easier for individuals with disabilities, bikes, strollers and others.
As for the crossing, it has motion detectors for nighttime use and lights are activated once an individual reaches the entryway.
“If trains were boarding, other trains would be held out,” Haggerty said regarding the fence. “That is a significant improvement for service for Amtrak and the Coaster.”
Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said the project will only strengthen the city’s business community, especially along the Palomar Airport Road corridor. The area has about 85,000 workers, he said, and SANDAG has identified it as one of the top areas in the county for employment.
Additionally, Schumacher said it will help grow the Carlsbad Connector, a pilot program using several shuttles to ferry passengers to their jobs using an app.
Tony Kranz, an Encinitas councilman and chairman of the North County Transit District, said the focus for the Coaster and Sprinter is to secure more locomotives and cars to increase capacity. Also, he and Schumacher said, the extension of the platform will allow Amtrak and other longer trains to service Poinsettia.
“These new infrastructure projects are critical,” Kranz said. “The growth has surpassed the infrastructure. My hope is this will entice more people to ride the train.”