Pedestrians and a motorist cross the tracks at Carlsbad Village Station Sept. 16. The San Diego Association of Governments reported to the Carlsbad City Council Sept. 10 regarding trenching options for the railroad tracks through Carlsbad Village. Photo by Steve Puterski
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SANDAG reports on preliminary plans for trenching

CARLSBAD — Steam is starting to pick up for trenching the railroad tracks in Carlsbad Village.

During its Sept. 10 meeting, the San Diego Association of Governments presented an updated report to the City Council regarding the short and long trench options.

Linda Culp, a principal planner for SANDAG, said the long trench would stretch past Tamarack Avenue to Agua Hedionda Lagoon, while the short track would not reach past Tamarack Avenue. The difference, she said, result in two less vehicle overpasses with the short trench option.

In total, the short or long trench would take about four years to complete, Culp said.

“It’s exciting,” Councilman Keith Blackburn said. “It’s a whole lot of money and a whole lot of work, but something that will benefit our community 50 years into the future.”

As for the cost, the short trench, at 6,000 feet, is estimated between $215 million to $235 million, while the long, 8,400 feet, is between $320 million to $350 million. SANDAG also completed a feasibility study in 2017 revealing the economic benefits of short, long and at-grade options, safety and improved mobility.

Both options would begin at the Buena Vista Lagoon, just outside the Oceanside border, run through the Village. They would open up other areas of the Village and Barrio to access the beach instead of having to use Tamarack Avenue or Carlsbad Village Drive.

However, the short trench would run back to grade level before Tamarack and also not allow for a vehicle crossing at Carlsbad Village Station and Chestnut Avenue because the trenching height would be too low to accommodate vehicles travelling the overpass. The depths, depending on the option, range from 25 to 30 feet with a required width of 55 feet, Culp said.

The long trench would include vehicle overpasses at Carlsbad Village Drive, Grand, Oak, Chestnut and Tamarack avenues, along with pedestrian overpass at the station and Beech Avenue.

The at-grade option would add one mile of double track, an enhanced station platform, pedestrian underpass and new Buena Vista Lagoon bridge and cost about $62 million, Culp said.

“Both (below-grade) alternatives do include replacing the lagoon bridge at Buena Vista,” she added. “It would require the reconstruction of the Carlsbad Boulevard overpass because those footings would be in the way.”

In total, SANDAG has spent more than $805 million over the past 10 years on the rail corridor, which runs from the northern county line to downtown San Diego. Another push has been double-tracking areas, such as Poinsettia Station, as 70% of the corridor has two tracks, Culp said.

The benefits were detailed in the feasibility report and include a significant growth in the local economy, beach access and public safety including emergency personnel.

Blackburn also discussed the safety aspect, noting numerous pedestrians and cars have been struck over the years. With the trench, Culp said, safety would increase with a trench.

As for cost, Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel asked about the funding mechanisms and how the city would be able to fund a massive project. Culp said Transnet taxes have allowed SANDAG to potentially receive federal grants, along with state funds through Senate Bill 1 (gas tax) and State Transportation Improvement Program.

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