ENCINITAS — Cyclists will pedal on a path that runs alongside the railroad tracks in the not-too-distant future as a result of a recent vote.
Last Friday, the SANDAG Board of Directors OK’d $200 million in funding for the Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program, which includes 42 cycling projects across the county.
One of the projects: The Encinitas portion of the “rail trail,” a path designed to boost bicycle and foot traffic. Eventually, the rail trail will run the whole length of the city, linking up with segments in Carlsbad and Solana Beach.
The Chesterfield Drive to La Costa Avenue part of the rail trail will be a class I bike path that’s separated from motorists.
“Delineating space for bikers, away from cars, is the purpose,” said Chris Carterette, an active transportation planner with SANDAG.
The trail will be 14 feet wide in most sections, but as narrow as eight to 10 feet in others due to constraints such as established right-of-ways, according to Chris Kluth, senior planner with SANDAG.
Most of the rail trail will go east of the railroad tracks. But it could run west of the tracks in the northern part of the city.
Brian Grover, chairman of the Encinitas Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, said the rail trail will get people of all ages out on their bikes.
“Families aren’t always comfortable riding with traffic,” Grover said, referring to San Elijo Avenue and Coast Highway 101.
“Everyone feels safer with a separated area,” he added.
Portions of the rail trail might include fencing to separate it from the train tracks. But the location or need for the fencing hasn’t been determined, according to Carterette.
The Encinitas rail trail, which has been planned for more than 13 years, will be built in four segments. The first part: Chesterfield to E Street.
The community will be able to weigh in on that portion at upcoming meetings, tentatively slated for November.
$11.9 million from the early action program will pay for the rail trail from the Solana Beach city limits to Leucadia Boulevard.
The early action program is funded by Transnet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation that was approved by county voters.
The segment from Leucadia Boulevard to the southern tip of Carlsbad is expected to cost $6.6 million. SANDAG and the city have yet to identify funding to cover that expense.
SANDAG just started the design phase of Chesterfield to E Street. If all goes well, construction would begin in two years, according to Kluth.
The entire Encinitas rail trail could be finished by 2023, though that’s a loose timeline.
Ultimately, SANDAG envisions the coastal rail trail running from Oceanside to downtown San Diego.
According to SANDAG officials, last week’s vote is the largest financial pledge to bike infrastructure in the county yet.
This article was updated from its original posting to clarify the funding will pay from the Solana Beach city limits to Leucadia Boulevard, not Leucadia Avenue as the article originally stated.