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Commentary
Tunnel Troubles

Ann Gardner | Via Latina and Dee Rich | Longboat Way

Open Space off Portofino Road, one of two “favored” locations for proposed double track rail corridors to come above ground and cross the eastern end of the lagoon on an elevated structure over Carmel Valley Road.
Photo Dee Rich.

ED Note: Decisions about tunnel options for relocating the train track are likely to be difficult and contentious. Although the timing of any final decision is well into the future, we trust that Del Mar and SANDAG understand that aggressive efforts to get full public input will be critical. To that end the Sandpiper will offer space for interested parties to weigh in. Below is one commentary on the issue to be followed by many more during coming months.
Del Mar’s neighbors in the Heights and the Terrace are expressing alarm at plans to bring commuter and freight train tracks tunneled below Crest Canyon, above ground on preserved open space at the corner of Portofino Drive and Carmel Valley Road. The location is literally across Portofino from Del Mar Terrace homes. When asked at their May 20 planning board meeting what the two almost 35 ft. “portals” would look like, SANDAG representative Linda Culp responded those “drawings would be available soon.”

The Torrey Pines Planning Board serves as an advisory group for residents in the City of San Diego which includes the Heights (east of Crest Canyon) and Del Mar Terrace (along Carmel Valley Road). They had asked Culp back for a second meeting to discuss SANDAG’s “realignment” options to move the trains off the bluffs in Del Mar, and seemed surprised that the original five options had been reduced to just two, the High Speed Crest Canyon and the Camino Del Mar, options. The CDM option runs underground east of 101. All options rely on creating two underground tunnels (one southbound and the second northbound) between the northern and southern ends of Del Mar. The CDM tunneling option would emerge above ground generally at the intersection of Carmel Valley Road and 101 continuing through the Lagoon as the single track already does.

Del Mar’s neighbors in the Heights and the Terrace are expressing alarm at plans to bring commuter and freight train tracks tunneled below Crest Canyon, above ground on preserved open space at the corner of Portofino Drive and Carmel Valley Road. The location is literally across Portofino from Del Mar Terrace homes. When asked at their May 20 planning board meeting what the two almost 35 ft. “portals” would look like, SANDAG representative Linda Culp responded those “drawings would be available soon.”

The Torrey Pines Planning Board serves as an advisory group for residents in the City of San Diego which includes the Heights (east of Crest Canyon) and Del Mar Terrace (along Carmel Valley Road). They had asked Culp back for a second meeting to discuss SANDAG’s “realignment” options to move the trains off the bluffs in Del Mar, and seemed surprised that the original five options had been reduced to just two, the High Speed Crest Canyon and the Camino Del Mar, options. The CDM option runs underground east of 101. All options rely on creating two underground tunnels (one southbound and the second northbound) between the northern and southern ends of Del Mar. The CDM tunneling option would emerge above ground generally at the intersection of Carmel Valley Road and 101 continuing through the Lagoon as the single track already does.

Dee Rich, retired Vice-Chair of the Board, emphasized that the Portofino portals would “destroy a dedicated 26-acre wildlife corridor that completes a connection from the north to the Los Penasquitos Lagoon and conflicts with the Wildlife Management Plan of the Torrey Pines State Reserve. The portals would remove much of the native habitat within the preserved open space and uplands to the north.” Others voiced concerns about the lack of their input into the process, questioning the minimal time differences between the options. Residents left the meeting angry that they had not been included in choosing the favored alternatives and especially what they saw as a lack of interest in moving the tunnels closer to I-5.

 

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