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Tracking Tracks

Commentary: Tracks in the Surf
Al Tarkington | 11th Street

Train track next to the where the bluff collapsed. Approximately 5 ft or less from the track to the edge. Taken on February 22, 2019, a week after the bluff collapsed on February 15, 2019.
Photo David Shannahoff.
Click to enlarge.

A recent newspaper article quoted North County Transit District blaming people walking on the Del Mar bluffs for bluff erosion. Several years ago, they were blaming ground squirrels for eroding the ocean bluffs. What a joke!

Perhaps we should place the blame on the heavily laden freight trains that shake the ground as they rumble down the tracks many times each day. The Coaster and Amtrak trains shake the ground thirty times every day! And NCTD doesn’t mention the damage those trains do to the fragile (their words) bluff.
What a lame excuse for preventing beach goers from crossing the tracks. People have been using Eleventh Street in Del Mar for public beach access ever since Col. Jacob Taylor constructed the path to the beach in the 1890’s. That’s right. The 11th Street path to the beach was constructed in the mid 1890’s! When the Santa Fe Railway relocated the “Surf Line” rail tracks to the ocean bluff in 1909, they built a wooden bridge across the tracks to preserve beach access. The bridge over the tracks stood for 60 years until Santa Fe tore down (pre-Coastal Act) the bridge in 1969.

NCTD wants to reduce or eliminate any liability it has regarding people crossing the tracks. There are solutions for that, but one of them is not fencing off the beach to the thousands that cross the tracks every year.
There are safe at-grade pedestrian crossings all over the world. Even North County Transit District has at-grade crossings on their Sprinter line between Oceanside and Escondido. Or, replace the old bridge between 10th and 11th Streets.

The public has had access to the beach at 11th Street for over 125 years! As a San Diego public agency, NCTD has an obligation to preserve public beach access. And to deny public beach access is clearly at odds with the intent of the California Coastal Act.



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