OCEANSIDE — A $24 million project set to begin construction this month will make it easier for passengers and trains to flow through the busy Oceanside Transit Center.
More than 60 trains move through the transit center on an average weekday. Some of the improvements, including adding a third track and a new 1,000-foot-long boarding platform, will nearly double train capacity through the station, transportation officials said.
“We’re looking to improve a train parking problem,” said Linda Culp, a principal planner at the San Diego Association of Goverments.
The third track and boarding platform will allow commuter trains — such as Metrolink and Coaster — to park, pick up and drop off passengers, while leaving the existing two main rail lines available for Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and freight trains to pass, Culp said.
The Oceanside center, owned by the North County Transit District, is one of the busiest transit stations in the region with more than 1.2 million passengers a year boarding trains and buses. It connects transportation services between San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties.
When the project is complete, more than 100 trains will be able to use the station on average each day, Culp said.
Other station improvements include a new passenger walkway at the southern end of the transit center; passenger shelters; seating; and electronic signs that will display train schedules. The project will also include new rail turnouts and crossovers that will allow trains to shift tracks as they approach the platforms.
Officials say construction should not significantly affect passengers or train schedules.
“Passengers will see various sections of the transit center curtained off during some parts of the year,” Culb said. “But there will be no disruption in the schedule.”
Funding sources for the project include $3.4 million from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $6.7 million from the Federal Transit Administration, and $18.4 million from TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation administered by SANDAG.
Construction is expected to take a year to 18 months to complete.
The project is part of a larger $1 billion effort to improve rail service through the San Diego, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo corridor. That project includes double tracking the corridor from Orange County to downtown San Diego, which is now about 60 percent complete, officials said.
Other improvements include bridge and track replacements, new platforms, pedestrian crossings and safety upgrades.
The changes are part of a regional transportation strategy to reduce the number of cars and trucks using on Interstate 5.
Late last year, the North County Transit District also announced plans to redevelop about half of the 13-acre Oceanside Transit Center property at 235 S. Tremont St.
The agency asked developers to submit ideas for the project that could include homes, retail space and more parking.
For more information on the Oceanside Transit Center improvement project, visit www.keepsandiegomoving.com.