Del Mar

Plans to move train tracks off the coastal bluffs in Del Mar may hit legal snag

Del Mar City Leaders to discuss SANDAG rail realignment project

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During Monday's special meeting, Del Mar City Council members on Monday plan to hold a special closed-door meeting to discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit over the SANDAG's plan to move the train tracks away from the bluffs.

The LOSSAN Rail Corridor plays a key role in transporting millions of commuters and goods into our San Diego Region. Since coastal bluff failure has been disrupting the railway system, SANDAG wants to move the tracks further inland and away from the eroding bluffs.

They’re proposing a $4 billion rail realignment project with three alternate route options. Each proposal could impact the cities of Solana Beach, Del Mar, and San Diego.

Alternate A: A 6.8 miles of tunnel portion. It would start South of the existing Solana Beach station and the train tracks would extend through the fairgrounds, where a new underground special platform would be created.

Alternate B: A 5.3 miles long and would bury the train tracks under a portion of the Torrey Pines Reserve and the City of Del Mar.

Alternate C: A 4.9 miles long, making it the shortest. It would enter near Torrey Pines State Beach North Parking Lot and exit under Jimmy Durante Boulevard.

Sandra Hutton lives in Solana Beach and says she first heard about the rail realignment proposal when a mailer arrived to her house about five weeks ago.

"When this [mailer] came out, we were like, 'Why weren't we included in this?'" she said.

She’s concerned about the disruption of the proposed alternate routes could bring to the area.

"This is a San Diego regional impact. The fairgrounds brings approximately $630 million in revenue to the City of San Diego and that's by tourism, by the horse racing etc.., where is that going to go," she said.

She also worries about the impacts the project could have on the railway and freeway access while construction is underway and the potential impacts it could have on investments in her city.

"It's the only artery North and South from San Diego North,” she said. "I worry about the loss of investments, Solana Beach has done towards elevating the train tracks over the lagoon, a seasonal platform at the fairgrounds, a rail trail, this was our money so there's a huge loss of sunk revenue, you know, that we'll never see again."

SANDAG expects most of the funding to come from state and federal resources.

California has already designated $300 million to the project’s planning and design phases.

Meanwhile, Del Mar city officials are scheduled to meet Monday for a closed session.

In a statement, Del Mar Mayor Dave Druker said, “The closed session will focus on securing expert legal resources to support the City as the Notice of Preparation, California Environmental Quality Act, and National Environmental Policy Act are completed by SANDAG as part of the environmental review for the LOSSAN Realignment Project. In addition to seeking outside legal expertise, the City also plans to engage the services of outside planning, engineering, and communications consultants as part of the City’s participation in the environmental review, and future design and construction of this important project."

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