LOSSAN Rail Realignment

Notice of Preparation: SANDAG will prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the LOSSAN Rail Realignment project. Read the notice and share your comments by July 19, 2024.

Because the rail line through the LOSSAN Corridor is so essential, we are working on responses to landslides, erosion, and seismic activity which have caused collapses along the coastal bluffs in Del Mar and temporary shutdowns of the rail line. In the short term, we are working to stabilize the Del Mar bluffs. We are also looking at options for realigning the tracks completely off the bluffs.

After completing a multiyear planning study in 2023, SANDAG has begun preliminary engineering and environmental work on the San Diego LOSSAN Rail Realignment project. A Notice of Preparation of Draft Environmental Impact Report was released in June 2024 with the goal of producing a final environmental document in 2026. We are assisted by experts in tunnel design and construction from around the world as we evaluate impacts on the environment, safety, the economy, neighboring communities, land use, and mobility.

We continually review public comments and feedback, and there are many ways for you to stay informed.

Map showing three different colored lines as alternatives for railway alignments. Also shown are portal locations, existing LOSSAN corridor track alignment, and municipal boundaries.

San Diego LOSSAN Rail Realignment proposed NOP alternatives map: Lines depicting the railway alignments and portal locations to be analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Report. Proposed NOP alternatives are not labeled, named, or ranked in order of preference. 

Notice of Preparation of Draft Environmental Impact Report 

Notice of Preparation

Screening report

LOSSAN Rail Realignment Alternatives Analysis

San Dieguito to Sorrento Valley Double Track Alternatives Analysis: Full Report (2023)

San Dieguito to Sorrento Valley Double Track Alternatives Analysis: Appendices

Past Events

Public Scoping Meeting: June 18, 2024

Alignments Workshop: November 15, 2023

Alignments Workshop: November 6, 2023

Virtual Information Session: October 19, 2023

Tunneling Workshop: October 4, 2023

Project Timeline

In 2007, Caltrans and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released the final LOSSAN Corridor Program Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/EIS) evaluating conventional rail improvements for the corridor. Due to the high pedestrian activity in the City of Del Mar, and especially along the coast, the report recommended relocating the rail corridor away from the fragile Del Mar bluffs into an underground tunnel. This will achieve complete grade separation, significantly improving safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles. The EIR/EIS identified two possible alignment options: a tunnel under Camino Del Mar or a tunnel under I-5.

In 2017, SANDAG completed a conceptual alignment study to discover ways to improve speed, capacity, and safety of future rail service. It identified five possible alignments, including the two tunnel options recommended by the 2007 study. The other three options were Crest Canyon, Crest Canyon Higher Speed, and I-5 East.

In response to threats from erosion and climate change, SANDAG and partner agencies commissioned the San Diego Regional Rail Corridor Alternative Alignment and Improvements Conceptual Engineering Study for the San Diego section of the LOSSAN Corridor in summer 2020. Partners included the North County Transit District (NCTD), the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT).

In March 2021, we studied existing rail line conditions, analyzed proposed alignments, and conducted exploratory geotechnical work. To understand area challenges and opportunities, we met with key cities, agency partners, and environmental organizations.

We refined the five potential alignments identified in the 2017 study in the San Dieguito to Sorrento Valley Double Track Alternatives Analysis Report. The refined alignments were Camino Del Mar, Crest Canyon Higher Speed, Crest Canyon Above, Crest Canyon Below, and I-5.

In 2022, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins secured $300 million in the state budget to move the study forward to the environmental clearance and final design phases. This was a huge step forward for this critically important regional project.

In summer and fall 2023, we hosted community open houses and public information sessions to obtain feedback on the most feasible rail alignment options. Through these efforts, we had more than 300 points of contact, including 200+ written comments, 100+ emails, 30+ public comments, 35+ drawn alignment suggestions, and 25 meetings through our virtual and in person field offices.

As we incorporate public feedback into the environmental process and preliminary design for the future Rail Realignment project, we continue to review potential alignments and other rail improvement opportunities. See the Notice of Preparation of Draft Environmental Impact Report above.

As preliminary engineering and environmental work begins, our goal is to produce a final environmental document in 2026.

Frequently Asked Questions

The $300 million approved by the California State Legislature will fund preliminary planning, design, and environmental review (which includes an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes). The funding will allow SANDAG to begin environmental analysis of alignment alternatives, study potential impacts, address stakeholder concerns, and identify future costs.

See the project timeline above. The latest work is only the beginning of a lengthy community-oriented process. SANDAG intends to maximize public input opportunities throughout the project.

Preliminary engineering and environmental studies will need to be completed to identify the full range of benefits. At a minimum, the project will protect the rail line from landslides, erosion, and seismic activity along the Del Mar bluffs, and secure the long-term reliability of transit service through our region. We also expect the realignment to facilitate coastal access and create new recreation and building opportunities.

The total cost to deliver the project is anticipated to be $3 to $4 billion. Initial planning and design phases have been funded by $300 million from the State of California. Once an alignment has been chosen, multiple sources of government funding—including local, state, and federal—will help us complete the project.

SANDAG aims to complete a cost-benefit analysis during the environmental phase.

The alignment options have not yet been chosen. Using information from various studies, we are currently considering various alignment options. Read through the project timeline above for more detail on the process.

No decision has been made on which proposed alignment will be built. All practical alternatives are still being considered and will be studied during the formal environmental review process under CEQA and NEPA, which began in June 2024.

Due to the topography of the existing terrain and the 2% maximum slope design requirement, meeting this slope requirement would likely be challenging to accommodate with an entirely at-grade or above-grade option. Although many potential alignment options are still being evaluated, tunneling would ensure the long-term reliability of the rail line. By replacing the current single track with a double-tracked, underground route, we can achieve the necessary performance and safety goals.

During the environmental phase, we will study the potential impact of construction and train traffic on residents. A team of experts will evaluate noise and vibration reduction methods that will work best in this specific situation. Our goal is to deliver a solution that minimizes vibration and noise.

The realignment project is part of a larger program of improvements on the LOSSAN Corridor. It is still too early to know what property interests might be required. To learn more about this process, please visit our Real Estate and LOSSAN Rail Realignment page.

SANDAG presented preliminary results of the planning study to several community planning groups, the Del Mar City Council, and other technical boards between 2020 and 2023. Feedback from public meetings has influenced the alternatives evaluated in the study.

North County Transit District
Caltrans