El Portal Crossing to get state funding

ENCINITAS — A highly anticipated undercrossing at El Portal Street in Leucadia has made the cut for a major state grant, giving the project a major boost.

The California Transportation Commission Active Transportation Program’s staff has recommended the commission award the city of Encinitas’ request for a $4.67 million grant to fund the undercrossing, which would be opposite Paul Ecke Central Elementary School.

The project will provide a critical crossing in an area that currently does not have a legal way to cross the North County Transit District’s rail corridor.

Residents have long clamored for such a crossing to provide safe access to the west side of town, as well as to cut down on the number of citations that residents receive from Sheriff’s deputies for illegal crossings.

Encinitas grant is among 86 requests that made the final cut, totaling $179.7 million.

The state commission will make the final decision on the awardees after it adopts the official annual funding program at its Oct. 21 and Oct. 22 meetings.

“This is fabulous!!!” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer wrote in her weekly newsletter to her supporters. “At last, we will be able to provide a safe way for residents to cross the rail corridor between Encinitas Blvd. and Leucadia Blvd.”

Shaffer went on to thank Councilman Tony Kranz for “keeping the pressure on all of us to focus on the rail corridor,” and staff for writing the proposal.

Encinitas was unsuccessful last year in its bid to fund the crossing, but city officials and council members believed they had a better chance during the current funding cycle after they earmarked $700,000 — or 11 percent of the $6 million project — as a partial match during the most recent budget discussions.

The state commission scored the proposals on a scale of 0-100, and only recommended projects that scored higher than an 88.

Encinitas’ proposal scored a 98, one of the highest scores among the projects.

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