NCTD, Coastal Commission far from being partners when it comes to Del Mar bluff work

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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The Del Mar bluffs continue to erode, prompting officials to focus on relocating train tracks.
SANDAG

It doesn’t look like the North County Transit District is interested in a trade. However, the agency might be the odd man out in what appears to be a two-way deal.

The San Diego Association of Government (SANDAG) wants to build a mile-long trail, grade-level pedestrian crossing, and a stairway to the beach along the railroad right-of-way in Del Mar, Calif., as compensation for the construction of more seawalls and other structures. The additional seawalls and structures are part of a project to help stabilize the Del Mar bluffs.

The California Coastal Commission is expected to consider the SANDAG work for approval this week. However, the tension between Del Mar, the California Coastal Commission and the North County Transit District (NCTD), which operates on the right-of-way, continues to thicken. The California Coastal Commission said a safety fence requested by NCTD would impede public access to the beach and should be required to go through environmental mitigation.

A report revealed the stabilization work has taken the area about the size of a football field away from public use. The seawalls also are holding back bluff material that would otherwise be added to the beach.

The only legal pedestrian beach crossing in Del Mar is located at Coast Boulevard between Powerhouse Park and Seagrove Park. Many beachgoers prefer to trespass over the railroad tracks, which is why the NCTD wants to install a fence.

NCTD Executive Director Matt Tucker said he is against the mitigation projects because they will make the job of keeping the tracks safe more expensive and more time intensive.

The NCTD has filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board regarding the fence work, but the STB has not ruled on the matter.

In the meantime, SANDAG will present the specs of the fifth phase of stabilization work to the California Coastal Commission next week.

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