Encinitas Coastal Rail Trail - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Coastal Rail Trail?

The Coastal Rail Trail is a planned continuous bike route that runs approximately 44 miles between the City of Oceanside and Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego. The Coastal Rail Trail was initially planned in the mid-1990s and is being constructed in segments by SANDAG and the various cities it traverses.

The Coastal Rail Trail is designed to improve biking and walking connections to destinations along the San Diego County coastline, including to homes, businesses, local parks, school and beaches. It is a critical part of a larger vision for a diverse regional bike system of interconnected corridors, support facilities, and programs to make biking a convenient form of transportation for everyday travel.

What is the Coastal Rail Trail alignment in the City of Encinitas?

The Encinitas stretch of the Coastal Rail Trail consists of three segments. The first segment, a 1.3-mile bike and pedestrian path in the community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, runs along the east side of the railroad tracks near San Elijo Avenue between Santa Fe Drive and Chesterfield Drive, and opened to the public in May 2019.

SANDAG recently obtained a state grant to evaluate all alignment options between Santa Fe Drive and La Costa Avenue. SANDAG will be working closely with the City of Encinitas, the North County Transit District, and the California Coastal Commission to evaluate the options over the next two years.

South of Chesterfield Drive, the Coastal Rail Trail is anticipated to follow Highway 101 from Chesterfield Drive to Solana Beach. The proposed project includes restriping this section of roadway. Currently, this project is not scheduled for implementation.

Why is the Encinitas project needed and what are the benefits?

This project will provide safe and convenient connectivity for people who walk and bike in Encinitas. The path will help to create a network of facilities to offer more transportation choices in the community by providing safe routes for people to walk and bike to parks, beaches, shops, schools, and restaurants. 

The project also will help fulfill the vision laid out in the San Diego Regional Bike Plan to make riding a bike a useful form of transportation for everyday travel by connecting people of all ages and abilities to many community assets, including beaches, schools, neighborhoods, transit, employment, and other key destinations.

The project is also one of the improvements identified in the North Coast Corridor (NCC) Public Works Plan/Transportation and ResourceEnhancement Program (PWP/TREP). The PWP/TREP includes a package of highway, rail, biking/walking, environmental, and coastal access improvements along San Diego’s North Coast Corridor – a 27-mile stretch from La Jolla to Oceanside – over the next 30 years.

Who was responsible for building the first segment of the Coastal Rail Trail in Encinitas?

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the lead agency responsible for the project. Caltrans served as the construction contract oversight manager. SANDAG and Caltrans have and will continue to collaborate with the City of Encinitas, California Coastal Commission (CCC), North County Transit District (NCTD) and other involved agencies on future project segments. 

Will the palm trees along San Elijo Avenue just north of Verdi Avenue be replanted?

Twelve palm trees along San Elijo Avenue were removed in early June 2018. This was necessary in order to create the space for the bikeway in this area of the project. While the palm trees could not be relocated, twelve Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum’ (Desert Museum Palo Verde) trees were planted at the southern end of the project area – inside and nearby the Harbaugh Seaside Parkway. Landscaping plans were designed with the existing corridor in mind – preserving natural habitat and coastal views.

How was the first segment of the Encinitas Coastal Rail Trail project funded?

Design, engineering, and construction of the first segment of the Encinitas Coastal Rail Trail were funded by federal, state, and local funds, including the regional TransNet half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG. The project was also partially funded by a State of California Active Transportation Program grant. 

How can I stay informed about the project?

Visit our Notices page or sign up to be added to our email list.


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