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North County Transit District votes to add fence along Del Mar train tracks

NCTD plans to put a stop to people crossing the tracks by installing six-foot fences on both sides of the tracks in Del Mar.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The North County Transit District (NCTD) voted Thursday in favor of plan to add fencing along the train tracks in Del Mar, despite opposition from the Coastal Commission and the City of Del Mar. 

NCTD plans to put a stop to people crossing the tracks by installing six-foot fences on both sides of the tracks in Del Mar, from the Coast Boulevard crossing to the Torrey Pines State Beach bridge. The NCTD says the goal is to reduce deaths and injuries. 

Currently, in Del Mar there isn't much blocking people from the train tracks other than signs that warn of the train.

And while safety is the number one reason for the fencing according to the NCTD locals say they're not too happy with the plan.

"This is easy access, just walk down the hill and you're fine," said one resident. 

"I don't think it's necessary yet, people are pretty safe nowadays getting across down to the trail," said another.

But according to NCTD, in the last five years, there have been 10 people who've died from being hit by a train - most recenly last month - plus 1,800 "near misses" and illegal trespassing. Four people have died by illegally crossing the tracks since 2016, and the transit district has been sued by surviving relatives of the victims.

"The fatalities in Del Mar are absolutely concentrated at Coast Boulevard," said Terry Gaasterland, a Del Mar Council member.

The first phase of the fencing plan calls for a fence that would be either six or four feet high and 3,700 feet long.

The second phase would add another 3,000 feet. That's over 6,000 feet which would be near the bluffs and many homes

Gaasterland, who strongly opposes the idea of fencing said more needs to be done and other options should be considered.

"All the people who walk this trail, are gonna be looking through wire mesh hog wire chain link fence," said Gaasterland.

Residents – who launched a website delmarbluff.com – said they would agree to a short section of fence where most of the fatal accidents occur, but they say there are other solutions that would make the train tracks safer.

There is a plan to incorporate small posts and cable fencing in the upper trails, however, there needs to be an agreement between the City of Del Mar and the coastal commission by the end of February. If they don't agree to a deal, the six and four-foot fence will go up.

"People live here - and that's the whole reason why for the view and easy access to the beach," said one resident. 

Board members said an agreement has to be made by Feb. 28.