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Swami's Beach Now Easier and Safer to Reach

A new pedestrian rail undercrossing off Coast Highway, near Santa Fe Drive, officially opened Wednesday.

Getting across the railroad tracks to reach Swami’s Beach in Encinitas is now much safer and easier with the completion of a pedestrian rail undercrossing off Coast Highway 101 near Santa Fe Drive. The crossing officially opened Wednesday afternoon after a ribbon cutting ceremony. 

The Santa Fe underpass is one of four planned rail crossings in Encinitas, designed to improve pedestrian safety and coastal access along the San Diego portion of the busy Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor. Approximately 50 passenger and freight trains travel on the San Diego segment of the coastal rail line on weekdays. Illegal pedestrian crossings of the rail line and the rail right-of-way have been a frequent occurrence in the area. Before the completion of the project, the nearest legal rail crossings to Santa Fe Drive were half a mile north at E Street or 1.3 miles south at Chesterfield Drive.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Encinitas Mayor Teresa Arballo Barth; SANDAG Chair and Santee Councilmember Jack Dale; and County Supervisor Dave Roberts, a Board member of the North County Transit District (NCTD). 

“This new rail bridge and pedestrian undercrossing provide a convenient and safe way for pedestrians and cyclists to get from one side of the railroad to the other to access coastal recreational areas, cultural resources, historicDowntown Encinitas and our beautiful Coast Highway 101 corridor,” Mayor Barth said.

The project was a successful partnership between SANDAG, NCTD, Encinitas, and Caltrans. SANDAG secured the funding and oversaw the construction. NCTD is the owner of the rail line and facilitated construction. The City of Encinitas contributed $1.25 million from its capital improvement program for design and construction and will maintain the crossing. The project also was made possible by state and regional transportation funding, including $2.75 million from TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG.

CALTROP provided construction management services. T.Y. Lin International was the principal design/engineering firm, and FLATIRON was the general contractor. Schmidt Design Group provided landscape architecture and design services.

“NCTD is committed to ensuring safety around the rail corridor,” Supervisor Roberts said. ”With the completion of this pedestrian undercrossing, community safety will be significantly improved as pedestrians can now safely cross the rail line and avoid  train hazards.” 

In addition to Santa Fe, other crossings are planned in Encinitas at El Portal Street, Montgomery Avenue, and Hillcrest Drive. The total cost of the four crossings is estimated at $25.7 million. Money still needs to be identified to complete the remaining three crossings.

The Encinitas pedestrian crossing is one of 20 capital improvement projects in development along the 60-mile segment of the LOSSAN rail line in San Diego County. Along with the planned Interstate 5 Express Lanes project, the LOSSAN rail line is critical for moving goods and people through the North Coast Corridor.

“This project is an important part of the North Coast Corridor Program, which is a $6.5 billion package of coordinated rail, transit, highway, environmental and community improvements for our coastal cities,” SANDAG Chair Dale said.  “Improving coastal access for our residents and visitors is a major tenet of the North Coast Corridor Program.”

—SANDAG

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Ella Quince March 01, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Only $25.7m huh? And we don't have the funding so we don't know when they'll be built? They were sold for $5,000,000 each vs $500,000 for at-grade crossings, so they're already over budget (not counting future inflation) but the authorities wouldn't let us have the cheaper option based on some silly unfounded fear that people on foot wouldn't know how to negotiate the same lights and barriers cars do, which they already negotiate perfectly fine at the current at-grade road crossings. Nor did they want to build a bridge to cross the tracks and 101 in one fell swoop on account of some NIMBY neighbors more interested in protecting their million dollar views than the best option for the city and the people. So now we've ended up with a new signalized intersection at Swami's and SRF, which will no doubt create more noise pollution from all the motorcycles and sports cars gunning it on their southbound joyrides. For the price of this one we could have had 12 crossings, serving much more of the community much sooner. It's completely ridiculous. Since this is supposedly about safety, you would think they would want to provide a solution now rather than make people wait 20 years, and rather than shift the burden of supposed liability from the rail corridor to the roads where collisions are much more likely. So much for good governance and financial stewardship.
Jay Berman March 01, 2013 at 09:31 PM
It's all corruption Ella, look at this thing they built, it is more like a park with landscaping, park benches, long ramps ... they spend like it's not theirs .... they keep their contractors flush with jobs ... meanwhile streets here are atrotious .. most havent had a coating in many years, potholes all over ... complete irresponsibility
Lynn Marr March 02, 2013 at 06:15 PM
The money would be more wisely spent by installing at grade crossings. The math doesn't add up to $5 Million EACH. If one divides $25.7 Million by 4, the result is $6,425,000 EACH! That's absurd to us taxpayers, including gasoline taxpayers. For that amount of money, plus the $20 Million+ that is planned for 5 bogus roundabouts that will choke off Leucadia, we could TRENCH THE TRAIN from El Portal to La Costa, where it's already trenched! Then we could have a wider, beautiful linear park on the east side of the highway, as in Solana Beach. But this dedicated bicycle pathway DOESN'T HAVE TO WAIT for the train or the pedestrian walkway "bridges" to be trenched. A Class One bike lane is already in the works through the Bicycle Masterplan Update, which was approved by the Planning Commission on 1/17/13. A resolution for approval was supposed to come before Encinitas City Council this past Wednesday, Feb. 27. Instead, after it had been published in the paper, it was CANCELLED WITHOUT EXPLANATION, and although I planned to address Council on the BMP Update, I was rudely disallowed by Mayor Barth and our City Attorney, Glenn Sabine. A bicycle pathway in the Railroad right of way already exists, intermittently, from Chesterfield to Marchetta, extending from A Street to Marchetta, just south of Leucadia. Our Class One bicycle lane should be MAINTAINED (removing thorn-bearing plants) and extended to La Costa. Give motorists back our northbound lane on N101!
Jay Berman March 02, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Comin sense solutions obviously don't pay off the contractors enough for their support ... simply corruption .... I'm afraid even this new city council will be just as bad as the last ....

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