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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Double-track project to begin on busy southern California corridor


The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has announced that construction is slated to begin on the first phase of the Sorrento-to-Miramar, Calif., double-track project. The double track is one of 20 capital improvement projects in development along San Diego County’s 60-mile segment of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail corridor.

To be completed by 2013’s end, the first phase calls for building 1.1 miles of second track parallel to existing track. In addition, a wood trestle bridge built in the early 1940s will be replaced, retaining walls will be added and a new track crossover will be installed, according to SANDAG. The project is the first of two phases of work designed to help speed up passenger and freight trains on the corridor by straightening the steepest and highest curves. More than 50 trains operate on the corridor’s Sorrento Valley segment daily.

The second phase, which is in the design and environmental review stages, calls for adding another 2.1 miles of double track and straightening curves. A current stretch of single track causes a significant bottleneck to rail traffic because sharp curves restrict train speed to 25 mph, SANDAG officials said in a prepared statement.

“Building on Amtrak’s recent completion of two miles of double tracking in Carlsbad, we will have three new miles of double track completed in three years, which will help reduce travel time and accommodate the growing demand for passenger and freight services in the region’s North Coast Corridor,” said SANDAG Chairman and Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks.
The first phase is estimated to cost $43 million, $29 million of which will be covered by a regional half-cent sales tax program. SANDAG will design and build the two phases in collaboration with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, which owns the rail line south of Del Mar; and the North County Transit District, which manages, operates and maintains the track. FLATIRON West and H & H Engineering Construction Inc. will serve as the joint-venture contractor for the first phase.
Currently, half of the L.A.-San Diego-San Luis Obispo corridor is double tracked, and another 11 miles of double track will be added over the next five years, according to SANDAG. Over the next two decades, the association plans to spend about $800 million on the county’s portion of the corridor to increase capacity, and ensure the reliability and safety of intercity-, commuter- and freight-rail services.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/5/2012