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Del Mar Coaster Upgrades Now Under Discussion

San Diego’s regional planning agency wants the public to weigh in on plans to build a train station at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The idea has long been touted as a way to improve traffic when the County Fair is on and during the horse racing season.

Aired 1/22/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego’s regional planning agency wants the public to weigh in on plans to build a train station at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Dan Egger NCTD

The Coaster coming through Del Mar

The Coaster rail line runs right past Del Mar, but due to objections from local residents, there is no station there. However, with traffic around the fairgrounds an increasingly painful problem, the idea is gaining traction.

SANDAG has earmarked almost $10 million to prepare environmental impact reports on the rail upgrades in Del Mar. It’s all part of the grand plan to make it easier to get from San Diego up the coast to Oceanside, including widening Interstate 5.

The station platform would be part of improvements that include double-tracking the railway line so trains can pass each other more easily in the future. The old wooden trestle railway bridge over the San Dieguito Lagoon also needs to be replaced -- it is almost 100 years old.

On Tuesday night, the public is invited to an open house to look at maps and exhibits and ask questions. There are environmental concerns because the rail line runs across a coastal lagoon.

Don’t expect to alight at the fairgrounds from the train like Bing Crosby did any time soon, though. The whole rail improvement project near Del Mar is estimated to cost $100 million and construction isn’t expected to begin before 2020.

Proposals to underground the train as it runs though Del Mar are a separate project and would not happen for decades.

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