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Several Del Mar residents and members of the press surrounded a table in Nancy Fisher's Del Mar living room. At the table sat the executive director for North County Transit Matt Tucker, chief rail engineer for the transit district Justin Fornelli, and Del Mar city councilmembers Carl Hilliard and Mark Filanc. The panel was assembled to discuss the temporary train platform (expected to operate for the next 10 to 15 years) proposed for a stretch of track east of 25th Street in Del Mar, mere feet from Beach Colony homes.

Estimated to cost under $4 million, the temporary platform would be a fraction of the $80 million it would cost to build a permanent stop north of the river, away from Del Mar neighborhoods. Of that $80 million price tag, the cost to build the platform is $4 to $6 million, the rest of the $80 million would go toward raising a bridge and laying down an additional set of tracks to accommodate for the dwell time that trains would need to let passengers on and off the train.

The benefits, said councilmember Filanc, include increased riders on railways, reduced bus trips from Solana Beach to the fairgrounds, and decreased car traffic on Del Mar streets. NCTD has estimated approximately 1200 passengers per day would use the new platform during the ten-week race season and the county fair.

While Tucker urged residents to look at the project with a "fresh set of eyes," residents couldn't see the temporary stop bringing anything but late-night nuisance. Tucker said that NCTD would provide security and possibly build a wall to prevent pedestrians from crossing the right of way into their neighborhood.

"Why can't a train stop at a platform north of the river on the single track?" a resident asked Tucker.

"You can't do a project that involves a single-track stop because you would be stopping rail traffic up and down the corridor," the executive director explained.

"Are there any cities in North County that have single-track stops?" asked another resident.

"Fifty percent of the railroad is single-track," responded Tucker. "It is what it is, and it is not optimal today. We wouldn't do anything to make it worse."

Toward the end of the 90-minute meeting, residents were asked for a show of hands whether they supported the temporary-stop proposal. Not one person raised a hand.

Councilmember Carl Hilliard told the residents that if the Del Mar City Council opposed the project then NCTD would derail the proposal.

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Comments

savvyseniors Oct. 16, 2010 @ 4:56 p.m.

What Horse-owning Councilman Hilliard failed to say, apparently, is that if he can’t convince the neighbors in his own city to put up with the inconvenience of this silly “neighborhood stop” in their back yard, then his friends at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club who likely stand to be the “winners” of the basically non-advertised VERY lucrative contract to run the racing at Del Mar, just might have to put up the $4 million to build the long needed “Permanent” stop north of the river – or run the risk of losing out on many added weeks of racing “slated” to come to Del Mar.

And for Tucker to say that you can’t build the permanent stop north of the river behind the Stretch Run Turn – and behind the current Scream Zone tent, on the existing track and use it for the races and perhaps the fair, is equally disingenuous. Downtown Carlsbad and Downtown Encinitas Stations both have just one track…and the train would be stopped there for only three minutes, as is Amtrak’s policy and practice. And since both Amtrak and the Coaster will both stop there at those times, it is not going to “stopping” any train needing to pass another.

And that $80 million finger assumes adding trestles connecting to south of the river rail routes which have yet to be chosen, and each option requires a different trestle configuration….so until the south of river route (choice of three) is chosen, nothing can be built. And it ignores the proposed NCTD $3.5 million project – soon to commence- in refurbishing the existing trestle. They propose to throw money away like a shipload of drunken sailors.

The level of misinformation being shoveled out by Hilliard, Tucker and as always the Fair Board and staff is at such a level, it makes the Fairgrounds truly a “scream zone.”

Why don’t we just forget about adding any more racing at Del Mar – particularly if the “potential winner” of the new racing contract – which earns them a million per day – is unwilling to put up the $4 million for the needed north-of-the river stop. With even a dodo marketing those races, they would earn that investment back in less than a week! The potential end of October to Christmas race meet can go to Santa Anita or Fairplex in Pomona instead of Del Mar. Better that than clogging up I-5 with traffic during the Thanksgiving to Christmas period. Summer is bad enough.

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David Dodd Oct. 17, 2010 @ 12:13 a.m.

"While Tucker urged residents to look at the project with a "fresh set of eyes," residents couldn't see the temporary stop bringing anything but late-night nuisance."

The only nights they run horses at Del Mar is on Fridays. Unless residents go to bed at 7PM, I have no idea what is meant by late-night. About the Race Track: It amuses me how some people see it as an eyesore and a negative. There aren't many people around that were living nearby when the track was built, nor when the trains first started rolling through. It's like people who buy a house near an airport, and then a year later complain about the noise and want to re-route air traffic.

"The potential end of October to Christmas race meet can go to Santa Anita or Fairplex in Pomona instead of Del Mar."

Fairplex is a dinky 5/8 mile track with no turf racing, it would mean the cancellation of several Stakes races, that's not going to happen. Since the demise of Hollywood Park is certain, I'm sure that the City of Del Mar would love to lose the potential tax revenue to the City of Arcadia. Better yet, why not gift Arcadia with the $80 million?

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