Cardiff barricades aim to keep parked cars from tumbling off bluff


North County Transit District recently placed temporary barricades along San Elijo Avenue in Cardiff with the goal of discouraging people from parking too close to the bluff.

With some Cardiff neighborhoods and businesses lacking parking, it’s common to spot rows of cars parked on dirt patches along the west side of San Elijo Avenue. Although it hasn’t happened yet, there’s a danger of vehicles tumbling over the bluff and onto the tracks, because of drivers not seeing the edge or erosion, according to NCTD officials.

“We have documented some instances where the cars have gotten so close they have a wheel suspended in the air,” said Don Filippi, NCTD chief of safety.

Filippi said the barricades signal to drivers when to stop, a safety measure that also aims to limit NCTD liability.

Two residents emailed the Encinitas Advocate asking about the purpose of the barricades. One expressed the desire for a more aesthetically pleasing solution, but did not respond to a request to be interviewed for the story.

The temporary barricades are located within NCTD’s rail right of way on San Elijo Avenue, from Santa Fe Drive to a stone’s throw north of Verdi Avenue.

Long-term, NCTD staff wants to replace the barricades with a barrier that’s quite a bit shorter and more visually appealing, said Dahvia Lynch, NCTD chief planning officer.

Lynch said there are no details on what the barrier would look like, as the design is still being developed. Nor is a timeline in place for when it would be installed.

It’s expected the low-lying barrier won’t affect coastal access, Lynch said. Thus, NCTD is hopeful the project wouldn’t require permits from the California Coastal Commission.

The parking along that stretch of San Elijo Avenue will largely remain intact. Yet, where the road is narrow, some spots could be removed to make way for a barrier, Lynch said.

As part of the newfound focus on bluff parking, a barrier could also be installed along other city bluffs in the rail corridor, particularly in Leucadia. Cars there are also in danger of falling onto the tracks, NCTD officials said.

“Right now, we’re looking at all the areas where the bluff would come into play as far as the danger of a car getting too close,” Filippi said.

NCTD officials said cars on the tracks are disastrous, pointing to a recent incident where an Amtrak train hit a tractor-trailer that had stopped on the tracks in North Carolina. The train derailed and 55 people were taken to the hospital.