LOSSAN Rail Corridor Awarded $53 Million

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency

OCEANSIDE, Calif. –– The continuing problems of geologic stability and shifting track along the LOSSAN Corridor in southern California are drawing more attention to this area. While this story focuses on a bridge replacement, the new bridge replaces one that is 108 years old and is subject to washout.

The North County Transit District (NCTD) and San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) today announced the award of a $53.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program to replace the 108-year-old San Dieguito River Railway Bridge in Del Mar.

“This project will be transformative for rail service in San Diego – adding capacity, reducing maintenance costs, and strengthening our infrastructure,” said NCTD Board Chair Jewel Edson. “The current wood trestle bridge is susceptible to flooding and washout. Replacing it will ensure the LOSSAN Corridor is resilient to the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels.”

Replacement of this bridge is part of Phase II of the San Dieguito Bridge Replacement, Double Track and Special Events Platform Project. The Project also includes nearly a mile of new double track and construction of a special events platform at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. These improvements will add capacity to the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) intercity rail corridor, increasing ridership, improving operational reliability, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region.

“We can’t wait any longer to invest in resilient infrastructure. Moving the tracks off the bluffs will make the LOSSAN corridor more resilient, increase capacity for passengers and freight, and protect the environment,” said SANDAG Second Vice Chair and Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner. “I am grateful for the strong support from our federal and state leadership in our joint effort to modernize this corridor with key contributions from Congressman Levin, Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins, and Senator Blakespear.”

The LOSSAN Corridor supports COASTER commuter rail, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner intercity rail, and BNSF freight operations in San Diego. Increased service frequencies afforded by this project will enhance national priorities to improve the movement of freight, reduce vehicle miles traveled, support climate action, create jobs, foster social equity, and provide mobility.

“When I first entered Congress in 2019, I made securing federal resources for the LOSSAN Corridor, the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the country, a top priority. For decades, the Corridor has been impacted by climate change, coastal erosion, and a lack of funding that threaten its integrity, which we witnessed firsthand this week with the closure caused by another coastal bluff landslide,” said U.S. Representative Mike Levin (CA-49). “These new funding streams will deliver real results and solutions to help protect the Corridor for years to come. There’s too much at stake.”

“The San Dieguito Bridge is a crucial piece of one of the busiest intercity rail corridors in the country, providing millions of travelers a lower-emission alternative and expediting the movement of goods across the coast of Southern California,” said U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. “This overdue replacement will build a more resilient, reliable, and efficient railway bridge while protecting the tracks from rising sea levels in the face of climate change. Once again, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering for California, creating good-paying jobs and connecting communities by modernizing our railways.”

“I thank Congressman Mike Levin and the federal government for supporting the LOSSAN rail line and recognizing its importance, and the North County Transit District and its board for its determined pursuit of this project,” said Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas. “Funding the San Dieguito bridge replacement project, with double tracking and a platform for Del Mar, is a giant step forward in improving the rail line in North San Diego County. There is still much more work to be done along the LOSSAN corridor, and that is why the Senate subcommittee I chair has asked the state to take a stronger leadership role and for all stakeholders to come together and work toward a shared vision.”

The award from DOT will complement $100 million NCTD and SANDAG were awarded in April from the State of California’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program for the Project. NCTD and SANDAG have also requested an additional $98,396,621 from the State to fully fund the project.

“California continues to prioritize investments in critical projects along the LOSSAN rail corridor like the San Dieguito Bridge replacement. With $162 million in state funding committed to the project, strong state support and partnership helped deliver this important federal grant,” said Mark Tollefson, Undersecretary of the California State Transportation Agency. “We are thankful for the Biden-Harris Administration, Congressman Levin and California’s congressional leadership for this strategic investment that will expand capacity and unlock ridership growth throughout the San Diego region.”

“The LOSSAN Corridor is a critical transportation link moving people and goods throughout San Diego, California and the Nation. Caltrans has a proud history of working with our corridor partners including the Federal Railroad Administration, LOSSAN Agency, NCTD, SANDAG, Metrolink, and others to plan, fund and construct needed improvements in the corridor,” said Acting Caltrans District 11 Director Allan Kosup. “As we saw today, our work is far from done and we look forward to the continued effort of implementing a coordinated pipeline of projects to ensure an integrated, seamless rail network for all Californians.”

The FY 2023 INFRA Award Announcement can be found here: Biden-Harris Administration Announces $4.9 Billion in Funding for Transformational Infrastructure Projects | US Department of Transportation. Detailed descriptions of each project to receive funding from this round can be found here: INFRA FY 2023-2024 Awards

Project Overview: The San Dieguito Bridge Replacement, Double Track and Special Events Platform Project will replace the San Dieguito River Railway Bridge, which is approaching the end of its useful life. Double tracking through this area and construction of the special events station platform at the Del Mar Fairgrounds will add capacity to support increased intercity rail frequencies and provide a one-seat ride to popular attractions such as Del Mar Thoroughbred Club races, the San Diego County Fair, concerts, and other events that attract visitors throughout San Diego and the Southern California region. SANDAG has completed environmental clearance and almost completed the design work on the project.

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