NORTH COUNTY–The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear Friday joined city leaders and a bicycle advocacy group to celebrate the completion of a three-mile segment of the Inland Rail Trail in North County.
Blakespear, Vista Mayor Judy Ritter, SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata, and San Diego County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Andy Hanshaw held a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning on SANDAG’s Facebook page.
The new three-mile section of the Inland Rail Trail is a dedicated multi-use path that runs along the Sprinter rail line in the North County Transit District (NCTD) right-of-way. With this section of the Inland Rail Trail complete, people can now bike, walk, or roll along more than 10 continuous miles of pathway, between the Escondido Transit Center and Mar Vista Drive in the City of Vista.
The latest phase includes a 2.5-mile section between Cherimoya Drive in the County of San Diego and Mar Vista Drive in the City of Vista, and a half-mile section between North Drive and North Melrose Drive in the City of Vista. View a map.
“Adding miles to bikeways is so important as people bike and walk more than ever during the pandemic,” said Chair Blakespear. “We can make great strides as a community to reduce our impact on the environment and play a part in our region’s effort to meet our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals by offering residents healthy, safe, and viable transportation choices.”
The new sections of the Inland Rail Trail improve active transportation connections to local destinations such as schools, parks, and the Buena Creek Sprinter station, and expand access to regional destinations near existing segments of the Inland Rail Trail including retail, commercial, and employment centers, CSU San Marcos, and other transit connections.
“The Inland Rail Trail connects the cities of Vista, Oceanside, San Marcos, and Escondido and provides access to the entire Regional Bike Network, playing an exciting role in connecting the entire San Diego region,” said Mayor Ritter. “The trail gives residents more options to plan a trip, commute to work, or just enjoy a day out on the town.”
The Inland Rail Trail is part of the SANDAG Regional Bike Plan Early Action Program, an initiative approved by the Board of Directors in 2013 to construct a regional network of high-quality, pedestrian-friendly streets and bikeways that reimagines how we use space on our streets to make them safer and more comfortable for every person who uses them, regardless of age, race, or physical ability.
The opening of this three-mile section of the Inland Rail Trail is part of a larger planned continuous bike route that will run approximately 21 miles between Escondido and Oceanside. SANDAG previously completed a one-mile section of the trail in the City of San Marcos in early 2017 and will be completing three more miles of the trail as part of two future projects.
Construction of a one-mile segment of the Inland Rail Trail between Mar Vista Drive and Civic Center Drive in the City of Vista is expected to begin in 2022. A planned two-mile segment of the bikeway that runs between Civic Center Drive and North Drive in the City of Vista will be part of a future project when a funding source is identified for construction.
The approximately $16.2 million newly constructed three-mile segment of the Inland Rail Trail was funded through a combination of federal, state, and local sources, including TransNet, the regional, voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvement projects administered by SANDAG.