Encinitas gives priorities to Coastal Mobility Group

ENCINITAS — A citywide quiet zone, a study of an underground rail crossing at Verdi Avenue and a study of trenching options of the rail corridor are the priorities that the Encinitas City Council wants the city’s rail vision group to focus on.

The City Council unanimously on Wednesday provided city staff with the direction to the city’s Coastal Mobility and Livability Study Working Group, which have been working on the long-term vision for the city’s rail corridor for several months.

The City Council’s recommendation to the group, which is composed of local residents, community stakeholders and city commissioners, included the following:

• Proceed with quiet zone improvements at the Chesterfield Drive rail crossing and the undercrossing at El Portal in Leucadia.

• Include a funding request for at least $2 million during the city’s capital budget campaign that would be used to fortify the city’s at-grade rail crossings with the safety measures necessary to have the rail corridor designated as a “quiet zone,” where train horns would not have to sound.

• Approve a staff request for $64,000 that would allow city staff to develop conceptual drawings of an under crossing at Verdi Avenue as an alternative to a proposed at-grade crossing at Montgomery Avenue in Cardiff.

• Create a long-term plan for the corridor that includes a study of trenching options along the corridor and design guidelines along the rail corridor.

The recommendations came after city staff gave the council a two-hour update of the activities of the working group, which had requested the council provide them with guidance on how to proceed with several of the issues after the working group hosted its fourth meeting in January.

One of the things that was discussed at the January meeting was the potential cost for crossing upgrades necessary to help the city’s efforts of getting a federal “quiet zone” designation that would stretch the entire six-mile rail corridor between North Leucadia and South Cardiff.

The city has to apply for this designation with federal and state regulators, which have certain criteria that the corridor would have to meet in order to get the approval.

The Council’s recommendation to staff included spending the money necessary that the quiet zone would not include wayside horn devices, which emit quieter noise than train horns but are still undesirable to nearby residents.

The City Council also heard from residents on Wednesday who urged the city to do whatever it took to achieve the quiet zone status.

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