Inland Rail Trail that will connect Escondido and Oceanside.

The state awarded the San Diego Association of Governments nearly $12.1 million to complete the seven-mile San Marcos to Vista segment of the Inland Rail Trail.

The funds, an Active Transportation Program grant from the California Transportation Commission, will allow officials to finish a two-mile gap on the trail.

The project involves an area in Vista, between Civic Center Drive and North Drive.

In the end, there will be 14 continuous miles of trail between Escondido and eastern Oceanside for people to safely bike and walk with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region.

“Completing this stretch of the Inland Rail Trail is critical for our regional bike network,” said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “This biking and walking path will offer people a healthy, safe and viable transportation choice away from vehicle traffic, and is a great example of what we can accomplish as a community to reduce our impact on the environment.”

The two-mile phase will be the last of four SANDAG designed and built on the San Marcos to Vista segment of the trail.

The segments include:

  • One mile in San Marcos that opened in February 2017,
  • Three miles running through unincorporated San Diego County and Vista that opened in January 2021,
  • One mile in Vista, on which construction is expected to begin in 2022, and
  • The final two miles, partially funded by the state grant, with work expected to begin in 2024.

Mayor Judy Ritter called it “a momentous day for the city of Vista.”

“The completion of the Inland Rail Trail will provide residents a new, safe and reliable option to travel to transit stations, school, work or anywhere in North County while enjoying the outdoors and reducing GHG emissions,” she added.

The completion of the last two mile stretch is estimated to cost $15.8 million, which includes the $12.1 million grant award, a $650,000 match from TransNet tax proceeds and $3.1 million from earlier funds spent on design.

The state issues awards from the program based on a statewide competition led by the transportation commission, followed by the regional competition. The San Diego region will receive approximately $16 million in funding from the regional competition.

In addition to the Inland Rail Trail funding, partial funding was recommended for the La Mesa Bike and Sidewalk Connection project. Four projects in the San Diego region were reviewed by the commission as part of the statewide competition in Imperial Beach, National City, Oceanside and San Diego.

The commission is scheduled to approve the regional competition funding recommendations from the SANDAG board at a meeting this summer. In total, 37 projects competed in the regional competition, with requests for approximately $156 million in funding.

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