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Council supports kicking in funds toward El Portal undercrossing

The city wants to build an undercrossing at El Portal Street, similar to the undercrossing at Santa Fe Drive. The Encinitas City Council agreed to contribute funds toward the project to bolster its grant application.
The city wants to build an undercrossing at El Portal Street, similar to the undercrossing at Santa Fe Drive. The Encinitas City Council agreed to contribute funds toward the project to bolster its grant application.
( / Jared Whitlock)

To improve its chances of obtaining state grant funding, the Encinitas City Council on May 27 unanimously supported dedicating $700,000 in city money toward a planned undercrossing at El Portal Street in Leucadia.

The $700,000 — an 11.5 percent match — would go toward the more than $6 million El Portal undercrossing in the event the grant application is successful. During the meeting, the council confirmed final changes to the city budget, which it has been working on in recent months and will vote on June 10.

“I certainly support going forward with the proposal,” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said.

Undercrossings have been touted as a way to make the rail corridor safer and reduce the number of illegal pedestrian crossings.

The city is seeking funds for the $6 million undercrossing from the California Transportation Commission’s Active Transportation Program.

Glenn Pruim, director of Engineering and Public Works, requested the $700,000, because grant applications were due June 1. Pruim explained what’s different this year in the Active Transportation Program is that applications are given additional points when cities put up matches, with an extra point for being over 11.4 percent.

The city last year was unsuccessful in securing grant funding for the El Portal crossing. But Pruim said the city’s chances are better with the local match, coupled with a recently completed plan called “Let’s Move, Encinitas” that outlines in-demand transportation projects like the El Portal undercrossing.

The city will find out if makes the cut for grant funding in August.

Two other undercrossings are on the drawing board: Grandview Street and Montgomery Avenue.

On June 10, the council will also consider hiring an additional Sheriff’s deputy.


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