This awesome rant landed in my email inbox yesterday:
Tunnels crossings at the tracks are always bad for Encinitas
July 17, 2008
There are many reasons to not have railroad under crossings in Encinitas at this time. Here are some. They would not stop fatalities as 100% of deaths are from suicide or accidents at vehicle crossings. Not one suicide was averted when NCTD made it illegal to cross the tracks anywhere but vehicle crossings. They are playing the Nanny State and telling us we aren’t smart enough to fend for ourselves like people have for the last 100 plus years the tracks have been here. Make it legal again to cross like at Trestles Surf beach in northern San Diego County. I think we’re smart enough to survive.
At the three under crossings they will each have their own traffic light at Highway 101 along with additional overhead streetlights. We absolutely do not need any more traffic lights along our scenic highway. I live near the El Portal crossing, away from town with darkness at night, the last thing our family wants to see is a set of traffic lights blinking from our kitchen, dining, living room and bedroom. This traffic light we will see 24 hours a day flashing green, yellow and red. Thanks a lot. Also think about the light pollution and electrical usage, a huge problem in Southern California. Just what we need, three more traffic lights that will not be in synchronization. Just look at Encinitas Blvd. to see what traffic lights do to commute times. They rarely work together causing vast amounts of smog and carbon dioxide to be released into our atmosphere. Do we really need three more traffic lights? I was told by city staff a few years ago when the idea of a traffic light was first proposed at El Portal that they had enough money to install one traffic light a year and though it was a good place to put one. Not to mention that with this light, they want to remove the stop sign at Marchetta Street. Although this seems logical, it is in reality very dangerous. Studies have shown where stop signs are removed and accidents happen at these intersections, they are often deadly and the municipalities are usually held liable with expensive litigation. As it is now with our present stop sign at Marchetta Street, the traffic flows in and out of our neighborhood with ease and very little overflow driving through our narrow streets. The best solution here is to abandon the tunnel at El Portal and pursue an at-grade pedestrian crossing at Marchetta/Orpheus Street where in the past there was once an at grade vehicle crossing. With Orpheus being a natural feeder street from I-5 and the entire area east of 101 this makes the most sense. More pedestrians cross here than anywhere else from Encinitas Blvd to Leucadia Blvd. Staff said tonight that the railroad authority won’t allow at grade crossings but they did allow one just a half mile south at the Coaster Station where often crowds stand close by as the Amtrack train speeds by at 60 mph. Plus a traffic light will not be needed. Also most people will not use a tunnel if they are not convenient. Just an extra 200 feet in either direction or they will cross the tracks instead. Even with the wood rail fence. When they jump a short fence next will come a six foot cyclone fence with barbed wire atop. Soon it will look like a prison or the border fence. Think of the visual effect of a continuous ugly 6 foot fence where there is none now. After that it will stretch from lagoon to lagoon. Highway 101 is supposed to be a scenic highway corridor. Let’s keep it that way.
I have not yet stated all the problems with under crossings, and there are many that I am probably missing. There is sure to be loitering, homeless living, trash, clean-up, maintenance contracts at city expense, sump pumps because the bottom of the tunnels will be 6 to 8 feet or more below existing grade, flooding when these fail during storms, backup generators, the Fire Department to monitor for flooding as they do at Leucadia Roadside Park when rain is emminent, environmental hygienists to check water quality from these sumps, (don’t forget that the soils near the railroad tracks are usually very polluted, pcb’s arsenic, creosote and who knows what else, maybe pumped to our beaches) Thank you very much!
A very important concern is safety when crossing under the tracks in these tunnels. They will be below road level and THERE WILL BE BLIND SPOTS. Staff even said so tonight when one stated: “You will be able to stand at the top of the ramp and access the situation before you have to commit to cross under” Is that scary! Another staff member said that security camera’s are required. HUH! What for? Additional police enforcement will be necessary at these three crossings. Just another place for bad guys to do their thing.
I drive the coast highway through Solana Beach quite often and usually look at the two pedestrian bridges crossing the tracks. Only once have I noticed someone crossing either of the bridges. I know that these tunnels will not be used much. It would be a much better use of our taxes to have a taxi on each side of the tracks providing free shuttles than to spend 20 MILLION DOLLARS on this project. Another cost savings measure would be for the city to pay the fines for those trespassing across the tracks. While I may be trying to joke here, it is sad that we are at even going forward with tunnels where none is needed. My wife was told months ago by city staff that the tunnels were dead in the water. Now they are calling them bridges. Are they just spending free money from SANDAG? Our Federal, State and Local governments are broke and this is just another waste of taxes. Cut your losses and get on with more important matters. With the money spent on this study and design we could have had new bathrooms and a lifeguard tower at Moonlight beach. Now that is something that needs fixing! Facilities there are deplorable.
Another matter is the landscaping at these three tunnels. Besides requiring lots of water that is in short supply, the look of the entire corridor will be changed. It will go from dirt, weeds and gravel to concrete and lush vegetation back to dirt, weeds and gravel. Then back to lush vegetation back to dirt, weeds and gravel, etc, etc.
Also I don’t think those living just east of these traffic lights understand that they too will have visual blight that will never go away. At Santa Fe Drive we now have a beautiful view to the west for sunsets or looking at the surf. What we will get is another traffic light and street lights blaring 24 hours a day. I don’t think the SRF would like that. How well will their gardens and temples go with traffic lights. At Montgomery Ave those to the east will also see traffic lights and additional street lights 24 hours a day. How much better will the sunsets look with this visual pollution blinking red, green and yellow. The less lighting the better for night views. As hard as it seems, try to keep our gem of a city as rural as possible.
I am sure that eventually with the crosswalks on Vulcan and San Elijo that we will get two more stop signs as it will become dangerous without traffic control. But we could correct that with another traffic light. They seem to be the answer for everything.
In conclusion, I have a feeling that the ideas and designs for these tunnels have come from individuals that do not know the community well. I think maybe they are even from outside the area. They will be gone soon enough and we will be stuck with a 20 million dollar white elephant that never goes away. As I said before, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.
Leucadia Blog: Lowering the Train Tracks is the ONLY Solution for Leucadia