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.