One of Downtown’s nagging headaches has been long freight trains, blocking major intersections for up to 20 minutes.
But no longer, according to U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego.
In an agreement between Filner and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the railway will no longer stage the assembly and inspection of freight trains in a way that blocks access across Harbor Drive between the waterfront and the rest of Downtown.
Lynne Heidel, Centre City Development Corp. board chair, commended Filner and the railway for their agreement.
“Before, pedestrians and vehicles were often unable to cross Harbor Drive at First, Fifth and Eighth avenues for long periods due to the staging of freight trains preparing for departure from San Diego,” Heidel said.
“With more than 20,000 people living Downtown today, another 75,000 or so working here, and thousands more visiting the area daily, finding a safe solution was essential.”
Filner acted after seeing a video of people climbing over and through freight trains , including a couple pushing a baby stroller between train cars, Heidel said.
Starting this Tuesday, the railway will assemble and inspect outbound trains in National City rather than at the Crosby Street yard, eliminating the need to put long trains together in the highly urbanized Downtown.
Also, revised practices at the Crosby Street Yard will now prevent standing trains from blocking First, Fifth and Eighth avenues while conducting air tests and other pre-trip activities. Once trains are assembled, they’ll be held clear of the intersections until departure.
Burlington Northern also plans to work with the city, CCDC and others on further improvements to reduce rail/pedestrian conflict throughout Downtown, especially near the new ballpark site and the San Diego Convention Center.