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VISTA (CNS) – The San Diego Association of Governments was awarded nearly $12.1 million in state grant funds for the completion of the seven-mile San Marcos to Vista segment of the Inland Rail Trail.

The funds, an Active Transportation Program grant from the California Transportation Commission, will help complete a two-mile gap of the Inland Rail Trail in Vista, between Civic Center Drive and North Drive.

When the project is complete, the result will be 14 continuous miles of trail between Escondido and eastern Oceanside intended to provide an opportunity for people to safely bike, walk and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the San Diego region.

“Completing this stretch of the Inland Rail Trail is critical for our regional bike network,” said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “This biking and walking path will offer people a healthy, safe and viable transportation choice away from vehicle traffic, and is a great example of what we can accomplish as a community to reduce our impact on the environment.”

This two-mile phase will be the last of four phases SANDAG has been designing and building as part of the San Marcos to Vista segment of the trail.

A one-mile segment in San Marcos opened in February 2017, three miles of the trail running through unincorporated San Diego County and Vista opened in January 2021, construction of a one-mile segment in the Vista is expected to begin in 2022 and the final two-mile segment partially funded by the ATP grant in Vista is anticipated to begin in 2024.

“This a momentous day for the city of Vista,” said Vista Mayor Judy Ritter. “The completion of the Inland Rail Trail will provide residents a new, safe and reliable option to travel to transit stations, school, work or anywhere in North County while enjoying the outdoors and reducing GHG emissions.”

The completion of the last two mile stretch is estimated to cost $15.8 million, which includes the $12.1 million ATP grant award, a $650,000 match from TransNet and $3.1 million leveraged from earlier funds spent on design.

The ATP is competitively awarded in two stages, beginning with a statewide competition led by the CTC, followed by the regional competition. The San Diego region will receive approximately $16 million in funding from the regional competition.

In addition to the Inland Rail Trail funding, partial funding is recommended for the La Mesa Bike and Sidewalk Connection project. Four projects in the San Diego region were adopted by the CTC as part of the statewide competition in March 2021 in the cities of Imperial Beach, National City, Oceanside and San Diego.

The CTC is scheduled to approve the regional competition funding recommendations from the SANDAG Board of Directors at a meeting this summer. In total, 37 projects competed in the regional competition, requesting approximately $156 million in funding.

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