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.
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