Underground Passage Aims to Reduce Pedestrians Walking Over Tracks in Encinitas

            In the United States, statistics show that approximately every two hours a railroad accident occurs in which a pedestrian or vehicle is struck by a train. In Encinitas alone, three different people, along Highway 101, cross the train tracks in a five minute period. At that rate 864 people take the chance of being hit by an oncoming train in a 24 hour day.

The pattern is all too common here in our coastal beach cities from Oceanside to Del Mar, where an Amtrak and a Coaster pass in opposite directions in a 15 minute time span. Crossing train tracks is a rarely enforced misdemeanor, but it’s punishable with up to six months in jail along with a $1,000 fine. Yet still, surfers, joggers, bikers, and pedestrians routinely do it to get to the beaches because the legal route involves a 1.3-mile walk south to Chesterfield Dr., or more than half mile walk north to E street. Nobody hesitates to quickly cross the railroad tracks.

Cardiff in California

Starting this year, however, those who want to cross the tracks will not have to violate the law to do so. Encinitas started breaking ground January 18 on a pedestrian underpass that will allow beach goers to reach Highway 101 from the Cardiff bluffs by Swami's. Construction on this project will roughly cost $5 million and will take eight to nine months.

FYI, 52 trains pass through the city each day. Pedestrians crossing the tracks are also putting the trains in danger… of a collision and by crossing the tracks, they can push gravel away from the track causing the railroad ties to loosen.

This project will not interrupt train service except for only one weekend when the actual tracks will be moved. The concrete underpass will have a 9-foot pedestrian clearance, be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, and be 30 feet wide. This underpass will be the first of four underpasses planned throughout Encinitas.

The three other locations are near Grandview and Beacon’s beaches in Leucadia, and at Montgomery Avenue in Cardiff with a total cost of all four underpasses to be $25.5 million. 

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