Times of San Diego: Rep. Levin, Both CA Senators Announce $53.9 Million Grant to Replace Aging San Dieguito Rail Bridge
By Debbie L. Sklar
Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler Thursday joined Rep. Mike Levin to announce the North County Transit District will receive $53.9 million for improvements to the San Dieguito River Railway Bridge.
The grant for the San Dieguito Double Track, Bridge Replacement, and Special Events Platform Project comes through the Department of Transportation’s Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects grant program, which received a substantial funding increase through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a statement from the legislators read.
“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,” Padilla said. “With increasing landslides in the LOSSAN corridor, it is critical we continue to invest in more resilient infrastructure.
“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,” he said. “Once again, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering for California, creating good-paying jobs and connecting communities by modernizing our railways.”
The 108-year-old single track wooden trestle bridge lies along the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor, the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the nation. This project will replace the bridge, moving from a single track to a double track and raising the height of the tracks by 8 feet to account for increased sea level changes.
“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.”
Coastal erosion is already impacting the LOSSAN corridor; this week, rail service between San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside was suspended following a landslide in San Clemente.
“Building infrastructure for the future is not just about updating what already exists, but also about planning for a future with climate change in mind,” Butler said. “The $53 million secured to replace the San Dieguito River Railway Bridge and protect it from rising sea levels will make sure that California’s railway system is ready to meet the demands of tomorrow.”
The project also includes nearly a mile of new double track and construction of a special events platform at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The award from DOT will complement $100 million NCTD and San Diego Association of Governments were awarded in April from the state’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program for the project.
“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,” Levin said. “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.”
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