Saturday, December 08, 2007

Railroad Pedestrian Crossings Moving Forward


Walkway underpass project takes step, Three of four sites get council's nod

By Matthew Rodriguez
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

December 7, 2007

ENCINITAS – Encinitas is moving forward with designs for three pedestrian passes beneath the railroad tracks that stretch the length of the city, in an effort to protect residents from being hit by trains.

Although other North County cities grapple with the problem of residents illegally crossing tracks, only one underpass exists – at Pier View Way in Oceanside.

While Encinitas aims to begin building three underpasses in 2009, some Leucadia residents want a fourth built at Hillcrest Drive to give them a safe route to walk to the beach.

The city estimates it could cost more than $1.2 million to design, engineer and obtain permits for three underpasses: at Montgomery Avenue in Cardiff, Santa Fe Drive in downtown Encinitas and El Portal Street in Leucadia.

Encinitas has spent $680,000 on the project and has received $491,000 in state money through the San Diego Association of Governments.

Construction could cost $5.5 million for each underpass, said Richard Phillips, assistant to the city manager.

Some funds have been spent researching the Hillcrest Drive site, Phillips said.

Preparing environmental studies concurrently for a fourth underpass could cost an additional $175,000 and delay the other three projects by 12 to 14 months, according to the city. City engineers found that unlike the other sites, the Hillcrest Drive underpass could be prone to flooding.

read the complete article
here.

My Take,

We could save millions of dollars if we just allowed to people to look left and then right and then left again and just cross. For a few thousand dollars they could install special pedestrian warning lights and small pedestrian ramps like they have at the Coaster station. But this simple solution doesn't really apply to the America we live in today.

The majority of people who are hit and killed by the train are suicides. Expensive underpasses won't solve that unless they fence or wall off the tracks.

Walling off the tracks would solve another problem. If they used one of the new attractive high tech Sound Walls not only would residents of the L101 corridor no longer be burdened by the noisy train horns at 2 am, it would also cut down on dirt that the trains kick up when they fly by at 80 mph. There is a layer of dirt and grime covering the entire coast highway corridor from the trains.

This isn't just a wall, it's a noise barrier.

A Sound Wall doesn't have to be a giant monstrosity, bougainvilleas can grow on it making it attractive. The wall doesn't even have to be so tall you can't see the train anymore (it's sort of fun to be at a roadside cafe and watch the train go by). Also, we don't want to block the view of Leucadia from Coaster riders. If you haven't ridden the Coaster through Leucadia you should take the trip, it's a fun and interesting perspective.

A Sound Wall would also keep drunk illegal aliens from stumbling onto the tracks and getting killed and ruining your morning commute. A wall won't deter a super determined suicide who will find a way onto the tracks no matter what.

The downside of walling off the tracks is that you would be forced to use one of the pedestrian underpasses which could mean walking out of your way and a lot of doubling back depending on where you are going. But hey, walking is good for you.

It is important that North Leucadia get a pedestrian crossing. The city of Encinitas cannot continue to neglect North Leucadia.

Leucadia needs traffic and noise studies in 2008. It's a safe bet that the train horns are over the legal decibel limit.


Sound Fighter Systems website

***Strangely enough, this tragic event happened the same news day as the proposed pedestrian crossings: Man dies in Leucadia after hit by Coaster train

See also, NCT.com's Hillcrest railroad crossing on hold in Encinitas

16 comments:

  1. What we need are the promises fulfilled that some our city council persons made about lowering the tracks if they didn't oppose double tracking. like usual they just decided that they didn't live near the tracks so it didn't matter and let them double track.

    Your idea, JP, is just like theirs. Lets build a visual barrier because if you live near the tracks you don't want to see the ocean.

    Pedestrian at grade crossings would be a hell of a lot cheaper than the underpasses they are planning. I guarantee you that the city council will fence the tracks as soon as the first pedestrian crossing is done. Again taking back a promise they made about no fences.

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  2. We already have 4 AT GRADE pedestrian/car crossings in this town. It is fricken ridiculous that the feds won't let us put in at grade pedestrian crossings. It is a huge waste of taxdollars to build a bridge or underpass.

    Why isn't former mayor Christy helping us with this, now that she is chief of staff for Congressman Billbray? Since Christy won't help why doesn't the city send their lobbyists to D.C. to get the feds to change their stance and let us save the taxpayers millions of dollars.? Is it because the city isn't going to foot the bulk of the bill that they don't care about the waste? I hope not.

    It is an even bigger waste because who is going to walk two blocks north, go through the underpass, then walk two blocks south to get where they want to go when they could have just crossed straight over tracks to begin with?

    Jerome Stocks promised this Wednesday that there will be no fence along the tracks. People realize that crossing the tracks between Leucadia and La Costa IS SAFER than crossing at Leucadia or over the narrow La Costa bridge.

    When the shortest route is also the safest route people are going to take it even if the government agency that owns the tracks doesn't want them too.

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  3. Hwy 101 unsafe!!!December 08, 2007 1:50 PM

    While all you people sit and worry about an overpass/underpass grade separation...blah,blah,blah. Someone is going to get killed at the corner of Diana and H101. This morning I witnessed a near collision as the southbound car had to brake hard to avoid the car turning right onto south H101. The car turning right has no visibility!!

    Visibility is obstructed by cars parked too close the the corner!!! Upon further review I notice that the red paint for no parking has been painted over with gray paint. The city should correct this ASAP. This is an accident waiting to happen and a lawsuit in the making!!! Where is the city traffic dept?? Where is public works?? Why was this done and who is responsible??

    Let's correct this before someone dies!!! This area of H101 is unsafe!!!

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  4. There is not enough parking on 101 for the current businesses and the city is not requiring enough parking in new development.

    What happens when more business comes to L101? People will have to park on Vulcan and cross the tracks! Good thing there isn't going to be a fence.

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  5. Diana & 101.
    There is a red curb no parking strip 25 feet north along 101 from the corner at Diana, as per city guidelines. There was parking right up to the very corner until recently. It is safer now. This will be the case at all intersections where the new interim sidewalks are installed.

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  6. What are interim sidewalks?

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  7. There are many side streets that have parking up to the very corner north of intersections in Leucadia.
    Try turning north when there is a Suburban on the corner getting donuts at Tom's.
    These problems are going to take a long time to fix.
    Lowering the speed would make things safer now.

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  8. What are interim sidewalks?

    When the streetscape is completed there will probable be all new sidewalks and the interim sidewalks are currently being installed, from Jason to North Court.
    There will be a lot of workshops, meetings,politics, design, money procurement and such before this happens in north Leucadia. The process is beginning early next year for the south end.

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  9. It's time to fire the railroad cop and just leave the people who have being crossing the tracks safely alone. Lets face it people have been crossing those tracks ever since they were built. I was crossing the track s one day with a man in his eighty's who told me he'd been crossing for 50 and all one needs to do is look both ways and if you see the train wait till it passes then walk behind it. Lets face it the train occupies the tracks only about 1 hour a day leaving 23 safe hours a day to cross, do the math.

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  10. I agree, seems like the visibility when I turned onto 101 at Diana was barely even acceptable before someone painted over the red curb with gray paint. I know the businesses need as much parking but not at the expense of a few more people getting hurt in car crashes. I know I know things will get better someday when 101 is redone through Leucadia, but that is at least 5 years down the road.

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  11. Re: 6:59 and 1:50,
    There is more red paint on the north corner of Diana St. than there was before the new sidewalks were installed. (I smell politics). But all intersections are unsafe here with irresponsible 70mph traffic and no enforcement. What we do need is a 30mph speed limit zone for N. Coast Hwy 101.

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  12. Opps, got derailed from subject!

    Cost for the new Library in Encinitas: $20 million
    Cost for four new fire stations in Encinitas: $20 million
    Cost to lower the tracks in Solana Beach: $20 million.
    Cost for four pedestrian crossings under the tracks: $22 million.
    Aye-carumba!

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  13. We need to sell the library to Barnes and Nobel, puk an IKEA or Costco at the Hall Property.

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  14. I agree with Anonymous above regarding the grade-separation (a.k.a. "lowering the tracks"). Why would we dump millions into tunnels under the tracks when the goal is to lower the tracks at some point? (!!!) Solana Beach's lowering of the tracks almost instantly solved the crossing-gate gridlock that used to happen at Lomas Santa Fe. Why can't we do the same? And, honestly, I think that if people cannot be trusted to just look both ways before crossing the tracks than there's something so wrong that a pedestrian crossing will not be the answer.

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  15. The bridges are a white elephant. Nobody is going to walk out of their way to use them.

    ReplyDelete

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