View the Frequently Asked Questions in a printable document.

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 is now under construction between Santa Fe Drive and Chesterfield Drive in the community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

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 Resource Enhancement 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.

What is the first segment of the project and where is it being built?

The first segment of the Coastal Rail Trail in Encinitas is currently under construction in the community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea and will provide a 1.3-mile walking and biking path along the east side of the railroad tracks near San Elijo Avenue, from Chesterfield Drive to the Santa Fe Drive undercrossing.

Who is 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 is serving 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. 

What is the project status of the first segment in Encinitas?

Construction began on the first segment in April 2018 and is expected to be completed in early 2019.

How will parking be impacted during construction of the first segment? 

A temporary concrete barrier has been installed along the west side of San Elijo Avenue between Verdi Avenue and Santa Fe Drive. Parking is prohibited on this stretch of road during construction. All construction activity will take place behind the barrier and will not require regular road closures. Reduced parking in the form of parallel parking will return along this stretch of road when construction is completed, anticipated for October 2018.

Parking along the west side of San Elijo Avenue, south of Verdi Avenue and north of Chesterfield Drive, will not be impacted during construction as the Coastal Rail Trail will be set-back from the road. 

Why is construction of the first segment taking place over summer?

The first segment of the Coastal Rail Trail is an approximate year-long project. It is being built in conjunction and alongside the San Elijo Lagoon Double-Track project. The concurrent construction plans were designed to minimize the environmental impact and length of time that construction would take place in the community. Both projects are expected to be completed by spring 2019, before the next summer season.

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. 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 will be planted towards the end of the project, at the southern end of the project area – inside and nearby the Harbough Seaside Parkway.

Construction crews also will hydroseed with a native plant species mix on the remaining graded areas to restore the area alongside the completed bikeway. Landscaping plans were designed with the existing corridor in mind – preserving natural habitat and coastal views.

Will this project affect emergency vehicle access?

No, this project is not anticipated to impede emergency vehicle access to nearby homes and neighborhoods. SANDAG, Caltrans, and the City of Encinitas will continue to coordinate with local first responders to ensure emergency service providers are informed of the project plans and encouraged to provide their feedback. 

Will this project impact traffic?

The project is intended to improve transportation choices in Encinitas and, in particular, create better connections from neighborhoods to key destinations throughout coastal communities without using a car. Traffic flow is expected to remain the same.

Will there be a fence constructed alongside the rail line for this project?

A fence separating the path from the railroad tracks is required by the North County Transit District to be built as part of the Coastal Rail Trail project. The fence being built along the first segment of the Encinitas Coastal Rail Trail will be a 48-inch tall post and cable fence.  The fence will be located closer to the railroad tracks in locations where the North County Transit District railroad right of way is wide. The fence will be located closer to the Coastal Rail Trail path where the railroad right of way is narrow.

How is 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 are funded by federal, state, and local funds, including the regional TransNet half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG. The project is 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.


Brandy Sweitzer
SANDAG Senior Public Outreach Officer
401 B Street, Suite 800, San Diego, CA 92101 
(619) 595-5610
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