Tunnel Tangles

SANDAG, our regional government agency, made a February City Council presentation on train tunnel relocation summarizing the input that they have been receiving from a variety of citizen outreach efforts. Their graphic on possible routes demonstrates they have been listening to community concerns and suggestions. Laid out like spaghetti strands depicted on a map, at least a dozen sites have been identified, including one under the fairgrounds and one under the San Dieguito lagoon.


A packed city hall and numerous at-home viewers evidenced considerable concern and fear within the community. Testimony from citizens and questions from Council members were mostly civil and respectful in contrast to some of the aggressive complaints heard recently. It is important to understand that this regional decision will be made by SANDAG, not Del Mar, even though the potential impact will be mostly here. Del Mar has only one vote on the SANDAG board which includes all of the cities and the County of San Diego.  Del Mar’s influence on that decision will be most effective if we provide accurate information and constructive suggestions.


The federal and state mandate is to remove the tracks from our fragile bluffs and run two tracks along an inland route involving tunneling. The elaborate process is in its very early stages with a completion target of 2035. The next important milestone will be a first draft Notice of Preparation (NOP) likely in April. The NOP details all the what-and-how that will be analyzed in the year-long Environmental Impact Review. Our City Council, as well as members of the public, will have opportunities to suggest changes to the NOP before it is finalized. More opportunities for input will be in response to the draft EIR before it is finalized, probably in 2026.


Even though many of us are nervous about how this process will impact our community, we also need to remind ourselves that the current bluff site is unsustainable and the bluffs could ultimately produce a beautiful ocean front pedestrian trail for us and the region.