Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Construction kicks off on $700M North Coast Corridor Project

Written by 
A rendering of the new San Elijo Lagoon rail bridge. A rendering of the new San Elijo Lagoon rail bridge.

Federal, state and local officials participated in a ground breaking ceremony for the first phase of the North Coast Corridor (NCC) Program, which will make $700 million in infrastructure improvements over the next five years.

 

The NCC Program is a 40-year, $6-billion initiative that includes highway, rail, environmental and coastal access projects to improve the quality of life for residents, create a stronger local and regional economy and enhance the coastal environment over the next 30 years.

The first phase of the work focuses on highway, rail and bike, pedestrian and habitat improvements along the California coast between San Diego and Oceanside. The project calls for $480 million in highway improvements including adding one carpool lane in each direction on I-5; $40 million in bike, pedestrian and community enhancements and $80 million to restore the San Elijo Lagoon.

Stakeholders point out that improving the coastal rail line is a central component of Build NCC and the rail improvements included as part of the NCC program are part of a 20-year plan to invest nearly $1 billion in double track improvements from the Orange County line to Downtown San Diego. The first phase of the NCC program includes $102 million for two double track projects, two bridge replacements and a crossing improvement project.

The San Elijo Lagoon Double Track Project will be built first. The project will add 1.5 miles of second main track from Cardiff-by-the-Sea to the southern border of the San Elijo Lagoon and replace the wood trestle San Elijo Lagoon rail bridge with a modern, double-track concrete bridge. Additionally, the project will add a new pedestrian undercrossing at the south end of the lagoon, upgrade signaling and safety at the Chesterfield Drive grade crossing, reconfigure a rail switch and construct a low retaining wall north of the lagoon to keep the tracks and lagoon inlet separate.

The second double track project, Batiquitos Lagoon Double Track, is scheduled to begin in 2017 and will construct .75 miles of mainline from Aveida Encinas in Carlsbad to La Costa Avenue in Encinitas across the Batiquitos Lagoon. The project will replace a 1930s wood trestle with a double-track concrete bridge that will not only help with rail traffic, but will improve tidal flow in the lagoon due to a wider channel underneath the bridge.

The $700 million price tag for the entire first phase of the NCC Program is being funded by a combination of federal, state and regional revenue sources.