Del Mar wants to get trains off its bluffs

Del Mar wants to get trains off its bluffs
Posted at 6:13 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 07:44:42-05

DEL MAR, Calif. - Del Mar's coastal bluffs make for one of San Diego's most picturesque places, but they can also be deadly, and not just because the cliffs are crumbling.

When it comes to surfing in Del Mar, Mike Yoshida's biggest challenge isn't catching waves; it's getting down to his favorite spot on the beach.

"You basically have to go down this first bluff, and then you cross the tracks, and go down the trail down," Yoshida said. "It's kind of rugged."

It's a treacherous path also because the trains come within feet of the surfers, joggers and dog walkers who ignored the warning signs to stay out.

"You just got to be careful. I look both ways, like crossing the street," Yoshida said.

Trains have hit 12 trespassers in North County over the last year and killed multiple people in Del Mar.

Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott said he wants to get the trains off the bluffs for good and perhaps turn the area into a park.

"I think the fact that it's a public safety issue is one of the reasons why we are anxious to move this forward," Sinnott said.

The trains would be rerouted either in a new tunnel under downtown Del Mar or around the city.

"I think it would be a lot safer and be a nice place for people to hang out," Yoshida said.

However, SANDAG's project to reroute the trains isn't scheduled to be completed until 2050, and it would cost $1.3 billion.

The city may start pushing for the project to be given more priority and possibly more money to pay for it.

Frank Stonebanks is part of a group pushing for it to be done within 10 years, plus a pedestrian crossing well before that.

"The ocean was here a long time before the tracks were here, and we have a right to get to the ocean," Stonebanks said.

On Tuesday evening, the Del Mar City Council "unanimously supported adopting and accelerating this proposal to engage key stakeholders to both 1) assess feasibility and recommend a plan of putting in a pedestrian crossing between 6th and 12th streets and 3) accelerate getting the tracks off the bluffs in the next 10 years, and turn the area into a natural park. These were the measures requested by our petition (600 people signed) submitted to the city in Sep 2016 and supported by council."