Group supporting rail trail pauses advocacy

Group supporting rail trail pauses advocacy
Signs against the proposed Cardiff Rail Trail line a stretch of San Elijo Avenue in Encinitas. Supporters of the trail project have suspended their efforts after new information emerged over a quiet zone designation. Photo by Tony Cagala

ENCINITAS — The chief group supporting the Cardiff Rail Trail has suspended its advocacy efforts to turn its attention to lobbying for a noise-free pedestrian rail crossing at Montgomery Avenue, which they hinted would be critical to their continued support of the trail itself.

The Friends of the Cardiff Rail Trail made its announcement on its website shortly after the Feb. 24 City Council meeting, when city staff informed the council that the Montgomery Avenue crossing might not qualify for a quiet zone designation.

“Our advocacy for the Cardiff Rail Trail is conditioned on preserving beach access, which is a core value for the Cardiff community and for us,” the Feb. 26 blog post stated. “At this point we believe we owe it to our community to temporarily shift our focus from advocating for the rail trail to advocating for a clear and credible plan for the Montgomery crossing that ensures beach access. It’s the right move for our supporters (who now number over 1,700).”

City staff’s revelation caught supporters and opponents of the proposed Cardiff leg of the Coastal Rail Trail by surprise, and fueled opponent’s opposition to the project to a fever pitch.

It also gave supporters pause, as the quiet zone was considered a critical component of a compromise to build a rail crossing at Montgomery that would preserve beach access in Cardiff, as the rail trail would trigger the installation of a fence along the rail corridor.

Without the designation, noisy train horns would have to blow as trains approach the crossing in either direction, subjecting homeowners along San Elijo Avenue and Cardiff Elementary School to the noise, which Cardiff residents have deemed unacceptable.

“The inability to establish a Quiet Zone at Montgomery is a tremendous blow,” the blog stated. “Without a Quiet Zone, trains will be required to sound their horns before they reach the crossing, resulting in a significant and unacceptable increase in noise for Cardiff residents to the north and south of Montgomery.”

The Friends of the Cardiff Rail Trail also expressed concerns with the timing of the rail trail, the fence and the crossing as well several major projects along the Cardiff rail corridor and their potential impact on beach access.

“There is a desire to work together to make sure there is no gap in beach access caused by staggered completion dates,” the blog stated about the agencies involved in the various projects. “However, there is still uncertainty.”

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