Council not keen on rail proposal

While they're not against the concept of a rail platform at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar City Council members said Monday they remain concerned about the idea of building a second track to accommodate it.

Reacting to the draft of a report on the feasibility of building a seasonal passenger stop north of the San Dieguito River, they said their biggest concern was that the idea could get in the way of shifting the tracks closer to Interstate 5.

"These incremental steps increase the probability [of leaving] the Del Mar tunnel option as the only option," said Councilman Don Mosier.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), which prepared the report and is continuing to look at options, noted that the project is not likely to be built anytime soon since no funding is available.

The stop would allow visitors to take the train directly to the fairgrounds and the racetrack during the summer, rather than drive or take buses from the Solana Beach train station.

However, before the platform could be built, a second track and new bridge must connect Del Mar and Solana Beach across the San Dieguito River, so other train service could continue without being interrupted by passengers getting on and off at the fairgrounds.

Council members said they were concerned that double-tracking this section would require tunneling beneath Camino Del Mar to continue laying down a second track, rather than swing the tracks further inland. Del Mar residents have expressed opposition to a tunnel.

"[Double-tracking] this section does not preclude either option," said Linda Culp, a SANDAG transportation planner.

Councilman Carl Hilliard said other potential issues included increased noise and light impacts. The track would have to be built six to eight feet higher than the existing track to survive a 100-year flood, which would raise the height of the trains' headlights.

The platform, new bridge and double-tracking are estimated to cost $78 million.

Conceptual engineering and an environmental constraints analysis on the project should be completed by the end of June. After that, no funding is available to move forward, the SANDAG report notes.

Council members said they want Del Mar to be involved in project discussions and were interested in exploring cheaper alternatives to relieve traffic congestion that could be implemented sooner.

   
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