The Carlsbad City Council received an update from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Tuesday night, on a future project to potentially lower the railroad tracks in Carlsbad’s downtown railroad corridor.
In anticipation of train traffic doubling through Carlsbad by 2035, a second set of train tracks will need to be built alongside the existing tracks. The city is exploring the alternative of lowering the future double tracks beneath the existing street elevations through the Village and Barrio areas in Northern Carlsbad.
The City of Carlsbad, SANDAG and North County Transit District completed a study in 2017, determining that lowering the railroad tracks in a trench, beneath the existing street elevations, is technically feasible and has economic benefit. Two alternatives are now under evaluation: short trench and long trench alternatives.
Both alternatives would lower the double railroad tracks beginning from the Buena Vista Lagoon in the City of Oceanside, require replacement of the Carlsbad Boulevard overcrossing with a new bridge spanning the tracks and replace the railroad bridge across Buena Vista Lagoon.
The short trench alternative, which spans 6,000 feet, would construct vehicle overpasses at Grand Avenue, Carlsbad Village Drive, and Oak Avenue, with pedestrian overpasses at Beech Avenue/Carlsbad Village Station and Chestnut Avenue.
The long trench alternative spans 8,400 feet to include vehicle overpasses at Grand Avenue, Carlsbad Village Drive, Oak Avenue, Chestnut Avenue and Tamarack Avenue, with a pedestrian overpass at Beech Avenue/Carlsbad Village Station.
Lowering the railroad tracks below street level is reported to have a variety of benefits, including:
Improved roadway circulation: Eliminates the need to stop at crossing gates multiple times a day, improving traffic circulation for drivers, public safety and first responders
Increased car and pedestrian safety: Creates a positive barrier separating cars and pedestrians from crossing the tracks
Decreased environmental impacts: Reduces noise impacts from train horns and eliminates the need for crossing bells
Positive economic impacts: Considers the value of lives, time saved, walkability and railroad operations
SANDAG is currently preparing an analysis study on the two options for lowering the railroad tracks in a trench. A draft report is estimated to be completed in fall 2019, at which point public input will be sought on the short trench and long trench alternatives.