DEL MAR, Calif. — The plan to relocate the railroad tracks off of the bluffs in Del Mar has taken another step forward.  

San Diego County’s regional planning agency received a $300 million state grant to finish work to environmentally clear the project.

“The bluffs along the Del Mar corridor, they’re failing. So we’ve been spending money trying to shore up those bluffs but what really needs to happen: those railings need to come off the bluff, be in a tunnel.”

The details of where the tunnel would run have yet to be determined, but for now, the $300 million will address design and engineering.

“We’re really talking about a stretch that goes from just south of the fairgrounds up to the major lagoons. So it’s about a 2 1/2 mile stretch would be in a tunnel, and another mile or so through the lagoon area. So about 3, 3 1/2 miles of a really important corridor.”

It’s estimated to get the project environmentally cleared will take about 3 years, with construction estimated to begin in 2026. But a lot still has to happen in the meantime, in particular public input, which will also be supported by the $300 million grant.

Terry Gaasterland is on SANDAG’S board and is a member of the Del Mar City Council.

“Is there going to be noise at the entrances and the exits to the tunnel? Can those entrances and exits be pulled out, away from residential areas? Can the tunnel be deep enough and solid enough and insulated enough that there’s no vibration at all? That’s what this $300 million of environmental study is going to tell us.”

If all goes as planned, construction will be complete by 2035. The environmental study is looking at two of five original scenarios or routes the trains would travel underground.