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Track Trouble
Rail relocation when?

Dwight Worden | Seaview Avenue

California Secretary of Transportation David Kim has created a task force to address two rail related concerns of importance to Del Mar: 1) bluff stability and rail safety 2) long-term relocation of the rail line to an inland location. This is a powerhouse group comprised of federal, state, regional, and local officials. The membership list is extensive, with Mayor Haviland and me serving as Del Mar representatives.

Two subgroups have been created: one, addressing the bluffs and funding issues, and a second addressing long-term relocation. Mayor Haviland and I serve on the long-term relocation subgroup. Some highlights so far:

• The full Task Force has meet twice; our subgroup had its first meeting on May 14.
• There are funding sources available for near-term bluff stabilization and to update existing studies on long-term relocation. These funds come with deferral of other priorities. Funding estimated at $3 billion for the Del Mar tunnel has yet to be identified.

The importance of the rail line has broad support:-

• It is the 2nd busiest passenger rail line in the U.S.
• It is part of the national defense system (STRACNET).
• It supports roughly $8 billion per year of Port of San Diego business.
• It supports important other freight service.
• Every rail freight car takes a semi-truck off the freeway system, reducing GHG and congestion, and limiting the need for expensive freeway expansion. Ditto passengers and their cars.

There is consensus on broad goals for the future:

• The rail system needs to go clean energy.
• Overhead electric lines are probably not the answer.
• Hydrogen cells and/or battery storage are more promising.
• Plans are underway to implement a net zero program on both the passenger and freight system by the early 2030s.
• The freight system needs to go “double stack” to accommodate future demand.
• Headways for passenger trains should be every 20 minutes and hopefully every 15 minutes.
• Extension of the rail system to the border is a long-term objective.
• A tunnel through Del Mar removing the rails from the bluff remains a long-term objective, as is a tunnel under the Miramar area. Combined these two tunnels would reduce travel time from San Diego to LA to about 2 hours—competitive with cars.

Stay tuned for more as the process proceeds.



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