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.