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‘Significant’ approval given for base train station

COAST CITIES — Having received a letter from the Pentagon earlier this month, San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn was notified that he and NCTD (North County Transit District) received conceptual approval for a Coaster station on Camp Pendleton. 

Horn, who is the board chair for NCTD, said the idea behind the project was one of convenience for the Marines on base to be able to get on a train north to Los Angeles without having to go to the Oceanside Transit Center.

The station would also accommodate Amtrak and Metrolink, and maybe the Sprinter, Horn said, though tracks would have to be extended from Oceanside to make the Sprinter usage a possibility.

The station location is planned for an area above Stuart Mesa, near where the train yards are, he added. “That will allow all of the trains to come in there and pick up passengers, take them both north and south.”

The project has been in development for at least three or four years, Horn said.

“The Marines have wanted this for a while, but we can’t proceed without Department of Defense approval,” Horn added.

He said he was surprise d to see the letter, but that it was very “significant” for NCTD and the Marines to be able to proceed.

While still very early in the process, there is no set timeline or estimated costs for the project.

Commander J.G. Ayala, Marine Corps Installations Command, who provided the letter of approval, described the project as a “cooperative and innovative project that could potentially offer significant benefit to the personnel aboard Camp Pendleton and citizens in the surrounding communities.”

Any decision for the project’s eventual recommendation will stem from assessments and evaluations of legal, environmental, facilities and resourcing issues.

NCTD owns the railroad, Horn said. “We aren’t leasing it, so this is a big improvement for our railroad.”

NCTD said in a statement that the station would serve active duty service members, their families and the civilian employees on base. It wouldn’t be available for general public use.

Where funding would come from for the construction is still unknown, though NCTD says that remains an area of ongoing planning.

Once funding is found, SANDAG would manage the remaining planning, engineering, environmental and construction phases of the project.