SAN DIEGO–A new bridge over the San Diego River opened to rail traffic on Monday.
The first train over the bridge was the 4 a.m. Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, heading north from Santa Fe Depot.
The 900-foot bridge is part of the San Diego River Double Track (SDRDT) Project that will increase the passenger and freight rail capacity and improve service for commuters.
The old rail bridge, in use for decades, will be demolished to make way for a parallel bridge that will complete the double-tracking over the San Diego River.
“The San Diego River Double Track project is a critical piece of the effort to double track the coastal rail corridor in San Diego,” said SANDAG Board Chair and Del Mar City Councilman Terry Sinnott. “Double tracking will support the growth in rail service and increase safety and reliability – these are critical improvements to San Diego’s only rail connection to the rest of the nation.”
The San Diego River Bridge is a critical component of the double-tracking effort, as it is the only single-track segment south of Balboa Avenue. Once the parallel bridge is constructed and operational, the result will be a continuous seven-mile double track segment from Garnet Avenue/Balboa Avenue to the Santa Fe Depot.
Double tracking the rail line is a priority for SANDAG and the North County Transit District, which operates the San Diego County section of Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) corridor. The LOSSAN corridor spans six counties and runs 351 miles. The LOSSAN Corridor is second only to the Northeast Corridor as the nation’s busiest inter-city passenger rail corridor. Approximately 50 trains operate each weekday on the segment of the corridor south of Oceanside.
Partial funding for the project comes from a grant from the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), which awarded $66 million in Cap and Trade auction proceeds to complete three coastal rail projects in San Diego, including the San Diego River Double Track project. Double tracking allows trains traveling in opposite directions to pass each other without slowing down or stopping.
The overall project budget is $93.9 million, which includes right-of-way costs, design, environmental planning, construction management, permitting, signal installation, and construction. The SDRDT Project began in 2016. Construction is anticipated to be complete in 2019.