From the nctimes.com:
The California Public Utilities Commission approved plans Thursday for a $4.5 million underground pedestrian rail crossing at Santa Fe Drive and San Elijo Boulevard, just east of popular Swami’s Beach.
Legal spots to cross the tracks —- which separate most of the city’s residential neighborhoods from its beaches and downtown —- are few and far between in the relaxed coastal burg.
“Now we won’t have to be breaking the law —- we do every day,” said Beth, an Encinitas woman who gave only her first name, as she set out across the tracks with her toy poodle, Petra. “I’m all for it,” added Josie White, who has lived just east of the tracks on Vulcan Avenue since 1956 and called them “a nuisance” for nearly everyone in town.
Construction on the tunnel could start by September or October and last about 12 months, said Frank Owsiany, a senior engineer with the San Diego Association of Governments, the regional agency managing the project.
A combination of regional, state and federal grants will pay for the tunnel, officials said.
Plans for three more pedestrian rail tunnels in Encinitas are on hold because of a lack of funding, Owsiany said. Those crossings would run near Montgomery Avenue and San Elijo Boulevard; El Portal and Vulcan; and Hillcrest Drive and Vulcan.
Construction plans for the Santa Fe tunnel call for a 7-foot-wide walkway, at least 8 feet of clearance, and lighting along its length. The tunnel would be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act and lead to a protected crosswalk on South Coast Highway and 8 feet of clearance.
Roughly 44 passenger trains traveling up to 90 mph, plus seven freight trains, rush down the tracks each day. The number of trains is expected to double in coming years as a second rail track is added, said Encinitas City Councilman Jerome Stocks.
Encinitas traffic Sgt. Mark O’Connor said Thursday he did not have an exact number on how many train-versus-pedestrian accidents occur along the rail line.
But, he said, there’s typically about one per month somewhere along the coastal line stretching from Orange County to San Diego, or the inland line from Oceanside to Escondido.
“It’s fatal when it happens,” O’Connor said, adding the tunnel would “greatly improve” safety in the area.