Train track trenching considered in Village

Train track trenching considered in Village
There are three railroad crossings in Carlsbad, one at Tamarack Avenue, Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue. The city is looking into lowering the tracks to accommodate an increase in train traffic. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — As part of a long-term plan to improve transportation throughout the county, officials from the San Diego Association of Governments hope to increase the amount of train tracks to ease the flow of train traffic.

SANDAG Officials are looking to add double train tracks in Carlsbad. Most of the city is already double tracked, with the exception of the southernmost rail section, between the Avenida Encinas bridge and Encinitas, and the north section of the city in Carlsbad Village between Pine Avenue and the Buena Vista Lagoon to Oceanside, according to the city’s Community Relations Manager Christina Ray.

Double tracking would improve the flow of trains, which can back up north and south of the single tracks.

In an attempt to mitigate the sound and disruptions of more trains, on Nov. 25 the city approved the spending of $250,000 to evaluate the possibility of trenching the northern railroad tracks, similar to the trenching done in Solana Beach.

When the train goes through a trench, it doesn’t interfere with pedestrians or traffic and increases public safety.

The city and SANDAG will study the possibility of trenching the tracks in Carlsbad Village and the Barrio because wider tracks there would have a negative effect.

Ray said officials were concerned about the safety of pedestrians in the area and emergency response time. Since trains will be running more frequently, the likelihood of emergency responders getting stopped at railroad crossings will increase.

Officials were also concerned about the noise from the increased train traffic and the economic impacts of stopping pedestrian traffic in a highly visited part of the city.

“While we’re in support of improving regional transportation through double tracking, it needs to be done in a way that’s respectful of the Carlsbad community, with public safety being the highest concern,” said Carlsbad Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio.

Lowering the tracks into a trench would create more places for residents to safely cross, improve beach access and eliminate the need to cross at railroad crossings.

Trenching is also more expensive than double tracking “at grade,” or on the same level of roads.

SANDAG has already studied the addition of the double tracking at grade at three road crossings, Carlsbad Village Drive, Tamarack Avenue and Grand Avenue.

SANDAG is also doing a feasibility study to trench the tracks, which will be done by next September, according to Ray. The city’s study will supplement SANDAG’s.

As part of the track improvements, the project will include improving Carlsbad Village Station and building a new higher, longer and wider bridge over the Buena Vista Lagoon, said Ray.

If the trenching option is found to be feasible next September, the next step will be for SANDAG officials to start preliminary engineering planning and environmental reviews.

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