By Carl Hilliard
Member, Del Mar City Council and North County Transit District
Helen and Richard read into my earlier response that I said there is "no connection" between the temporary (train) platform and the permanent one. Actually, I wrote that the two are different issues.
Quite simply, the temporary one is doable now; the permanent platform is years off. That's the prevailing wisdom and collective expertise of the agencies involved, which includes SANDAG, NCTD and the 22nd District Agricultural Association, or Fair Board, as it is often referred to. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club does indeed have a financial interest in increasing the handle and on-track attendance, but it's not as "very, very" financially well-situated, as Helen and Richard state, to fund this mega-million-dollar project on its own.
Helen and Richard's insight into the delay is bang-on. As they stated, it comes down to "timing and money." Double tracking is the big-ticket item holding up the permanent seasonal platform. The estimate for the platform and the double-track project is minimally $78 million, a cost to be funded by SANDAG.
Timing-wise, the permanent platform is delayed because additional analyses need to be completed, including an operations-modeling analysis to quantify the rail operations benefits and potential impacts of the proposed stop, as well as a more detailed patronage forecast.
SANDAG, NCTD and the Fair Board, the project's partners, are committed, to the best of my knowledge, to moving the project forward. As a point of fact, SANDAG continues to seek funding; however, at this time it does not have the money it needs to continue beyond the conceptual engineering and environmental constraints report.
Helen and Richard and I all want the same thing: a permanent platform that will reduce traffic while increasing visitors to Del Mar. A temporary platform, used while the permanent one tracks from concept to completion, seems to me to be the logical, viable way to go.