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Railroad remains a barrier

ENCINITAS — Despite the requests of numerous residents, City Council voted unanimously to continue with plans to build pedestrian crossings under the railroad on Oct. 14.
A large contingent of supporters of “at-grade” crossings addressed the council in an effort to scrap the project in favor of a cheaper, easier solution. The three pedestrian crossings under the railroad tracks come at a price tag of $15 million.
Several speakers asked the council to pursue permission from the state regulatory agency and the railroad companies to approve a simpler plan to cross the tracks at street level. “All I’m asking for is time (to explore the issue),” said Leucadia resident Rachelle Collier, who helped collect 700 signatures in support of developing a plan to create at-grade crossings.
While preliminary environmental work is under way for proposed underpasses at El Portal Street, Santa Fe Drive and Montgomery Avenue, the city has only budgeted $1 million for the Santa Fe site with additional $4 million earmarked by the state for the project. A fourth project at Hillcrest Drive is undergoing environmental review.
Councilman Jerome Stocks, who represents the city on the North County Transit District, previously said he is optimistic that financial support will be forthcoming.
Stocks also said that if the city pursues at-grade crossings it will be difficult to establish so-called “quiet zones” because of safety concerns.
Councilman Dan Dalager said he doubted the city would get permission to build at-grade crossings.
A consultant hired by the city said that it was unlikely to receive permission to build at-grade crossings. William Schulte told the council that the state regulatory agency, the Public Utilities Commission and the railroad companies oppose those requests because of safety concerns.
However, Councilwoman Teresa Barth said the city should at least attempt to acquire approval. She and other speakers referred to at-grade crossings built in San Clemente.
Schulte said San Clemente’s success in obtaining permission to build at-grade crossings was based on the proximity of the railroad tracks to the beach, which are closer than those in Encinitas.
Several speakers told the council that they cross the tracks illegally on a regular basis to get to the beach, businesses and schools. “I just think it’s ridiculous that we haven’t completely exhausted all our lobbying efforts to get safe at-grade crossings before throwing up our hands and saying ‘we’re not going to get approval,’” Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident Jeremy Silver said after the meeting. “I cross the tracks almost every day and haven’t been killed yet,” he said.


TanyaBrooking November 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Five million PER TUNNEL??? Councilman Stokes: are you unaware of the condition of the California budget? Rumor has it we are broke, maybe you’ve heard. Remaining “optimistic” that the state is going to buck up $4 million (I assume this is $4m PER tunnel)is ludicrous, especially while the state gives IOU’s to Calif taxpayers instead of tax refunds, cuts resources to state parks, under-funds schools, etc etc.

Councilwoman Barth: stick to your guns! San Clemente has a good thing going. Let’s follow suit.

By the way, how much has already been spent on improving the 101 and Vulcan? Does it make any fiscal sense at all to consider tearing up either side of the tracks to make underground corridors after the improvements that have already been made and more set to come?

Brian Gulino October 26, 2009 at 8:52 am

The City of Encinitas is currently considering building pedestrian tunnels to go under the railroad tracks in order for pedestrians to be able to walk to the beach. Tunnels cost 5 million each, the City wants three of them. Above ground crossings are much cheaper but nobody can figure out how to make them safe.

Evidently the possibility that a pedestrian will linger on the tracks after the gates go down and the bells start ringing for 3 minutes, and then get hit by a train presents a great a risk to our citizens. I think Hansen’s can help us with this.
Hansen’s has a web cam up right now where you can check out Cardiff Reef at any hour of the day or night. See this at: Surely Hansen’s could put up more web cams to check out the pedestrian crossings? Then we need to get the engineers web browsers which show the crossings. Probably some modification of the technology would be necessary, hopefully this would cost less than a five million dollar tunnel.

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