SANDAG fielding questions about rail realignment

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

SANDAG officials fielded questions about rail realignment from the Del Mar City Council on July 26, as the agency begins more extensive community outreach and completes a study evaluating alternative alignments for the long-anticipated project.

“I hope that in two years time, this long-term project will be environmentally cleared and designed so it’s shovel-ready for any potential federal or state funding to come,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of SANDAG.

The realignment would permanently remove the tracks from the Del Mar bluffs, which have required frequent stabilization upgrades to allow the rail to safely operate.

According to a city staff report, a feasibility study currently in the works will analyze a Camino Del Mar alignment and a Crest Canyon High Speed alignment, and will be completed over the next few months.

At this point, SANDAG is fielding questions that the communities affected by rail realignment would like answers to. But many of those answers are pending further analysis, particularly for issues such as environmental impacts.

“We want the focus to be on just bringing forth what we want to learn as this project goes forward,” said Danny Veeh, a senior planner for SANDAG.

A study that includes cost estimates and a phased implementation plan is scheduled to be completed by April 2022.

“We’re examining all the different alternatives, alignments, we’ll be looking at all the potential impacts,” Veeh said. “We’ll have many opportunities for stakeholder engagement and addressing all the concerns that folks have. And for that environmental process, that’s when an alignment will be determined.”

Del Mar City Councilman Dave Druker said that most residents will be concerned about the environmental impacts, and urged a quicker timeline for evaluating them.

“This is in some ways an emergency and the quicker we get the environmental done, the quicker we’re going to be able to design the project, etcetera,” Druker said.

SANDAG plans to host a public workshop this fall. The date is to be determined.