Torrey Pines residents give feedback on rail realignment options


Representatives from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) fielded questions on July 29 from the Torrey Pines community about the options that are under consideration for moving the rail off the Del Mar bluffs.

Local residents had a chance to raise their questions and concerns during the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board’s Rail Subcommittee meeting. SANDAG officials also made a presentation about the preliminary phase of the realignment project.

Moving the rail inland would permanently remove the tracks from the bluffs, which have required frequent stabilization upgrades to allow passenger and commercial trains to safely pass through.

“Ultimately our goal is to make sure the community is aware of what is going on, when it’s going on and making sure we’re providing the most accurate information,” said Alex Welling, a spokesman for SANDAG.

But the agency does not yet have answers for many of the specific concerns that the community had, such as environmental impacts, vibration and noise.

“Those will be addressed in the next phase of work,” said Danny Veeh, a SANDAG planner.

Two of the favored options, based on a previous evaluation of five potential routes, are along Camino Del Mar and a Crest Canyon higher speed option.

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata has said that the goal is to get the project shovel-ready in two years so it will be ready for potential state and federal funding.

Some of the other common community concerns that residents expressed during the Torrey Pines Rail Subcommittee meeting included the impacts on property values, consistency with the Torrey Pines Community Plan, and the evaluation of five different potential alignments, which were scored on a worst-to-best scale of 1 to 5 in a series of different categories.

The Camino Del Mar option, for example, scored a 1 in the “environmental consequences” category and the Camino Del Mar higher speed option scored a 4.

“Why would anybody score a 1 going underneath Camino Del Mar knowing that you’re going to use the existing train tracks that are going there, and you’re not going to have to redivert it through the lagoon, through a state park, through Crest Canyon?” said Brad Remy, a member of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board.

“We understand that this is going to take time,” added Eduardo Savigliano, a member of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board and Rail Subcommittee. “So we want to do our careful analysis and be constructive, be helpful.”

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