Encinitas marks completion of El Portal pedestrian rail undercrossing


Encinitas City Council members (left to right) Joe Mosca, Tony Kranz, Joy Lyndes, Mayor Catherine Blakespear, former council member and current Assembly member Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-76th District) and Kellie Hinze celebrate the opening of the El Portal Undercrossing on Sunday, Aug. 14. (Encinitas city social media photo)

North Coast Current

Encinitas residents, city officials and regional authorities celebrated the completion and opening of the El Portal pedestrian railroad undercrossing on Sunday, Aug. 14.

The project, developed in partnership with the San Diego Association of Governments as part of the Leucadia Streetscape project, allows pedestrians safe and legal access to both sides of the community by going under the tracks.

“The El Portal Undercrossing creates a much-needed connection for our community to safely reach homes, businesses, schools, and the coast on both sides of the railroad,” Encinitas Mayor and SANGAG chairwoman Catherine Blakespear said in a news release. “Creating a complete network of fast and frequent transit services to major destinations is a priority of the SANDAG Regional Plan.”

Blakespear noted on social media that pedestrians were already using the undercrossing to get to a local farmers market.

The $12.1 million project took just under two years two complete after ground was broken in December 2020, according to the news release. Money came from the city’s general fund and a Caltrans Active Transportation Program grant.

“The El Portal Underpass is a big win for our community and region — it connects neighbors, businesses, beaches, and our local elementary school, who have been divided for half a century,” Boerner Horvath said in the news release. “When we build smarter, safer, and more efficient paths for communities, walking and biking becomes an easier choice for all. That’s why the El Portal Undercrossing was one of the first projects I pushed for when I spoke in front of the Encinitas City Council for the first time in 2015 and I am thrilled to see it completed.”

The undercrossing also considered important for safe travel to nearby Paul Ecke Central Elementary School, which starts its academic year soon.

“Our students and families have shared their excitement for the enhanced connectivity that the El Portal Undercrossing brings to the community,” Paul Ecke Central Principal Wesley Sechrest said in the news release. “This fall, our students and their families will have improved access and safety around railroad tracks when making their way to our campus.”

“The improvements also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act so that all people who walk, bike, and roll in the area can safely pass, regardless of mobility needs,” Encinitas Councilwoman and North County Transit District board member North County Transit District Board Member Kellie Hinze said. “This is a major win for the community and visitors alike.”

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