ENCINITAS — The City Council kicked off a series of planning sessions on Wednesday night with a discussion of all things transportation.
From new rail undercrossings to a second coastal rail track, representatives from transit agencies NCTD, Caltrans and SANDAG gave an overview of long-term projects in Encinitas.
After hearing from the public, council members directed city staff to bring back a report on the viability of “trenching” the train tracks, among other items.
Twice as many trains are due to pass through Encinitas in 20 years as part of a plan to double track some of the rail line. Echoing other public speakers, Russell Levan said the tracks should be “trenched” into the ground, but not as deep as the Solana Beach railway. Tunneling the tracks would solve issues related to noise and safety, he said.
“This would improve our quality of life,” Levan said, adding that it’s already difficult to hold a conversation on Coast Highway 101 with the frequent blaring of train horns.
Additionally, the City Council requested more information about the possibility of Encinitas chipping in to fund a $400,000 study on implementing train “quiet zones” in North County.
Quiet zones prohibit trains from sounding their horns, except for emergencies.
In lieu of the horns, crossing bells sound and lights flash at crossings to warn those in the area of approaching trains.
Neighboring cities like Carlsbad have also expressed interest in contributing to the study. Once completed, it would contain details like the estimated cost of putting in quiet zones.
Reports on improving bus stops, the effectiveness of a senior transportation program and other transportation items will also make their way back to council members.
This spring, as part of “strategic planning,” the City Council identified eight areas it would like to hold workshops for, with transportation being one.
The Nov. 6 workshop will take on arts and culture.
Part of that topic will cover potential community venues for artists, including the Pacific View school site.
Other workshop dates: the city’s transportation policies Dec. 4; the environment Jan. 29, 2014; economic development Feb. 26, 2014; recreation March 5, 2014; public safety April 2, 2014; community planning May 7, 2014; and organizational efficiency at a yet-to-be determined July date.
In addition to workshops, residents will be able to weigh in on topics on their own time via a structured online forum like MindMixer or Peak Democracy.
Encinitas hopes to launch the online component by January, City Manager Gus Vina said.
Input collected online and during the workshops will inform future city policies and documents like the General Plan Update — a blueprint of everything from land use to transportation.