A Coaster train heading north on the Del Mar bluffs. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The new state budget approved last week contains more than $26 million for key transportation projects in Del Mar and downtown San Diego.

In the Del Mar area, $6.13 million will be spent to stabilize the bluffs carrying passenger and freight trains, while in downtown San Diego $21 million is earmarked to complete a long-delayed road crossing over train and trolley tracks at Park Boulevard.

The funding was announced by Sen. Toni Atkins, who called the eroding Del Mar bluffs “a very serious public-safety risk.”

Those bluffs are eroding at a rate of 6 inches annually, and have collapsed in places, frequently halting train service on one of the busiest rail corridors in the United States.

“We’re coming out of a historically wet winter, and all of that rain has increased erosion risk,” said Atkins.

The project will be managed by the San Diego Association of Governments and is expected to take several years.

“This money is so critical to make sure that the movement of people and goods is happening in a safe manner,” said SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata. “We’re going to put piles in the ground and stabilize the bluffs and keep these beautiful beaches for San Diego.”

The location of the long-sought grade crossing. Image from Google Maps

The $21 million project in downtown San Diego will create a new crossing over the train and trolley tracks from Harbor Drive to Park Boulevard. Two decades ago, the 8th Avenue crossing was closed for construction of PETCO Park.

“It’s an important step that will help improve both vehicle traffic flows and pedestrian safety near PETCO Park,” said Atkins. “That project has been more than 20 years in the making.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.