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Off the Tracks
Nancy Fisher | 24th Street

Look both ways! NCTD warning sign at the bottom of 11th Street. Photo Mike Salt.  Click to enlarge.

Faced with escalating problems associated with the location of the train tracks on the bluffs of southern Del Mar, the City Council agreed, at its Jan.17th meeting, to step up efforts to tackle many complicated rail-related issues.

Recent bluff failures, deaths by suicide or accident, and a well-organized effort by hundreds of residents to build a safe and legal crossing to the beach around 10th or 11th Streets were all addressed, led by the efforts of Mayor Terry Sinnott, and by Deputy Mayor Dwight Worden, who provided an extensive outline of the issues the Council would need to consider to facilitate discussion.

Any analysis of rail problems along the bluffs eventually leads to agreement that the rails need to be relocated and this discussion was no different, except that Sinnott and Worden have now proposed specific steps to persuade SANDAG to move the rails much sooner than their current goal of 2050, replacing them with an oceanfront park and trail. The plan, which was agreed upon by Council, is to request a feasibility study from SANDAG and then to build support in our community, and neighboring communities, to accelerate the relocation by agreeing upon the benefits to the entire region.

Mayor Sinnott explained that the plan was “to build momentum in the region so that people recognize that getting the trains off the bluff is a good thing, from an operational, economic, safety, and environmental perspective. Let’s start gathering information, with SANDAG’s help, so that we can create a logical, complete, picture of why the project needs to move forward sooner rather than waiting.”

Debating where the tracks will be relocated is “putting the cart before the horse,” according to Councilmember Dave Druker.” Proposed locations have included tunnels under Camino del Mar or Crest Canyon, or near I-5, but Council would want SANDAG’s study and possibly environmental reports before even considering locations. A tunnel under the City, if considered most feasible, could be bored (moled) through the solid rock under the city as opposed to digging a much more invasive trench.

Meanwhile, the issue of legally crossing the tracks somewhere south of 15th Street remains a priority, and Druker offered some advice to residents and Council. “NCTD is looking at how to armor the bluffs again. We need to move very quickly now to figure out how to work with them to see if there’s a spot where we could put a crossing. They’re all ears right now, and would love to chat with us about that.”



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