To Get the Verdi Crossing Built, Look Forward and not Backward in the Encinitas City Council Election for District Three
It's silly season and the norailtrail group is re-litigating the Cardiff Rail Trail (yet again) in order to get Republican council member Mark Muir re-elected. This is tiresome. We must look forward instead of backward.
We're not done with the rail corridor in Cardiff. The battle in front of us is to fund the Verdi pedestrian undercrossing as soon as possible, with city dollars if needed.
This will be a hard, hard fight if the city doesn't get a grant for the construction costs. In that case, the funding will have to come from Encinitas, which means that some other city project in the capital budget will lose funding in turn.
The question now is who will be a more effective champion for Cardiff in that hard fight? Jody Hubbard or Mark Muir? We know Jody Hubbard is a fighter. She will be our champion. She is passionate about the crossing. She will make it happen.
Our friends in the norailtrail group are touting Mark Muir as the best choice because he opposed the east side alignment of the rail trail. Somehow, this has become his most important credential to be re-elected. So, how effective was Mark in opposition?
Well, he didn't speak at the big Coastal Commission hearing in May 2017 where the final alignment for the rail trail was settled. He wasn't even present at the hearing, the single most important meeting in the three year history of the project.
There was plenty of advance notice. We've subsequently learned he had a conflicting meeting (a very long meeting, apparently, since we didn't see him at all and we were at the hearing for almost 12 hours). We all had important things to do on that day. It's all a question of priorities.
Even if the conflict was unavoidable, we would hope a leader who is fighting for his most important priority would send a representative to speak on his behalf at a critical hearing where the issue would be decided. We would also have expected him to be more visible and vocal in the months and weeks leading up to the hearing.
Who was there opposing the east side alignment when it counted? Mayor Catherine Blakespear. Linda Culp from SANDAG. Members of the norailtrail advocacy group.
The Coastal Commissioners almost overruled their staff at that hearing. It was a very close thing (a 5-7 vote). Every voice at the hearing counted. This outcome wasn't on rails for either side all the way up to the end. It was a nail-biter.
Catherine, Linda, and the members of the norailtrail group who showed up were our true opposition in that fight. They left it all on the field. They earned our respect. They were effective. They almost won the day. Not Mark.
To win the battle for city dollars for the Verdi crossing, we need someone who will really fight for us. Who will go the extra mile. Who will be all in. Who will prevail in a knife fight in a closet if that's what it takes.
Also, for the record, the rail trail isn't the only reason why Cardiff *must* have the Verdi undercrossing built as soon as possible. A safe and legal crossing between Chesterfield and Santa Fe was sorely needed even before the rail trail alignment issue was decided. Many people were uncomfortable crossing the tracks and Coast Highway illegally - and dangerously - before the rail trail issue even heated up.
Don't buy the nonsense about Jody Hubbard advocating for a fence... that's ridiculous. Nobody was advocating for a fence.
Jody Hubbard will advocate for the crossing. And she will help us make it happen. We're sure of that.
Stay focused on what matters: An effective representative for Cardiff who will get us the dollars to build our crossing NOW.
New Rendering/Visualization of the Cardiff Rail Trail near the intersection of Birmingham and San Elijo Ave
News about the Verdi pedestrian crossing: The design is great but the City needs a grant to fund part of the construction costs
The Coast News has a recent article about the new pedestrian undercrossing at Verdi (link below).
The good news is that the design is beautiful. The article has an image of the plan for the crossing and it's worth checking out. The bad news is that the total project cost will be about $8.8 million including all the design work and construction. The City of Encinitas will need to get a grant to cover some of the cost.
The need for a grant introduces a bit of uncertainty into the timing for construction. With no dependency on a grant, construction on the new undercrossing could start in the summer of 2019 and be finished in 2020.
The city and its contractor (HDR) are preparing to submit an application for an Active Transportation Grant to cover as much as $4 million of the costs.
In a recent newsletter article, our mayor (Catherine Blakespear) indicated that the earliest completion date would be in 2021 if a grant was secured.
We'll keep you posted as we find out more.
Limited parking and occasional delays on North San Elijo Avenue from construction of the Cardiff Rail Trail
From a recent email blast from "Build NCC" (basically SANDAG and CalTrans):
Motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists may experience short intermittent delays along San Elijo Avenue the week of Monday, May 21 between Verdi Avenue and Santa Fe Drive from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Construction crews will restripe traffic lanes along San Elijo Avenue and place concrete barriers along the west side of the road. Vehicle flagging operations will be in effect during this work.
Parking on the bluff along this stretch of San Elijo Avenue will be prohibited at all times during construction of the Coastal Rail Trail bike path. Parking will return in the form of parallel parking upon completion of work in this area. This section of work is expected to be completed by October 2018.
SANDAG confirmed that work started at the end of April. They sent out a notice to that effect in email and now multiple press articles have confirmed that the project is underway. A link to one of the articles (in the Encinitas Advocate / Del Mar Times) is below.
Apologies for the false start in March; we were passing along the latest info that we had.
SANDAG is setting the expectation that the new trail will open in early 2019, with the completion date roughly aligned with the end of the double tracking project. With that said, we should probably be realistic and expect some delays; even so, it seems likely that the trail will be ready at some point in 2019.
At long last! Construction of the Cardiff Rail Trail is scheduled to start soon (this month) at the north end of the trail along the bluff. We'll bring you details as soon as we know more.
On November 29 the Encinitas City Council unanimously approved $1.7MM for design of a new pedestrian undercrossing near Montgomery Avenue and Verdi Avenue. This is a hard commitment and is evidence that the City is following through on the promise to provide safe and legal beach access to go with the Cardiff Rail Trail.
Aaron Burgin wrote an article in The Coast News with an update about the SANDAG approval of the additional funding.
Big news today: The full SANDAG Board voted this morning to approve the additional funding required to build the Cardiff Rail Trail on the east side of the tracks as approved by the California Coastal Commission in early May.
The SANDAG Board approval follows a unanimous Transportation Committee vote on June 2, 2017 to recommend that the Board provide the additional dollars. While the Transportation Committee vote was an important step, the Board meeting was for all the marbles and was not a sure thing given SANDAG's diverse group of elected officials and cities. Our group turned out in force for both meetings with several speakers going on the record supporting the trail.
Now that the funding is approved, SANDAG will move quickly to secure all the final design and construction approvals and permits required to get started. This project is closer than ever before to becoming a reality. It's now fully funded (with enough money in the budget even if the ATP grant goes away), has been approved by the Coastal Commission, and has been endorsed by the City of Encinitas. With the alignment issue settled by the CCC, the City of Encinitas has graciously stepped back into the role of SANDAG partner.
This was the last of the high-stakes public meetings and votes. After many, many years of twists and turns, leaps forward followed by huge reversals, a whole bunch of hard work, lots of waiting, buckets of angst, some good luck, and a tidal wave of goodwill from those of us who fought for it... the Cardiff Rail Trail is on its way.
We have been asked why we put effort into the Coastal Commission meeting (organizing, getting people to write thoughtful emails to the Commissioners, and speaking at the hearing). The reasons are actually pretty simple.
First of all, we had an obligation to the thousands of people who want the trail on the east side of the tracks and have been relying on us to champion their cause. We wanted to represent them well. We take that responsibility very seriously.
Second, we know that Encinitas desperately needs a network of safe/legal RR crossings and pedestrian/bike trails in the Cardiff rail corridor. However, we don't believe we'll see fundamental progress in that direction without the momentum generated by a regional infrastructure project like the Coastal Rail Trail. We were not optimistic that a City-funded improvement of San Elijo Avenue would happen in the foreseeable future given potential concerns about loss of parking and fencing (which would have to be built wherever the trail/sidewalk/path got close to the tracks). We have seen this movie before. We were also not convinced that the pedestrian crossing at Verdi Avenue or Montgomery Avenue would get built any time soon without the impetus of the impending CRT project. With a Coastal Commission mandate, the east-side CRT will make our network of trails and crossings a reality.
Third, we believe the east-side alignment is the right answer for the region, not just Encinitas. The Coastal Rail Trail will run along the east side of the tracks - in the rail corridor - through Leucadia and along Vulcan. The Cardiff section of the CRT belongs in the rail corridor as well. The pedestrian under-crossing at Santa Fe with its stairs and narrow ADA ramp (which has a switchback) is just not designed to handle the traffic moving from a west-side Cardiff CRT segment to the east-side trail that will run along the tracks by necessity. The Chesterfield intersection will be built for that purpose.
We are hopeful that money tentatively earmarked for San Elijo improvements in the City capital budget can be re-purposed for the under-crossing at Verdi or Montgomery which will integrate with the CRT when it's finally built.
We look forward to working with the community and with SANDAG to get the CRT project moving as expeditiously as possible.
Moderators and authors for the Cardiff Rail Trail page come from a group of dedicated volunteers.