An Amtrak train on the Del Mar bluffs
An Amtrak train on the Del Mar bluffs. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Construction crews have completed emergency repairs to stabilize the Del Mar Bluffs, but additional work is slated to begin next year, it was announced Friday.

The San Diego Association of Governments, North County Transit District and the city of Del Mar have worked to stabilize the bluffs following a collapse in February 2021.

Construction began in March 2021.

The emergency repairs consisted of the installation of additional piled support columns to stabilize the train tracks in the collapsed area, slope repairs, drainage improvements, bluff toe protection and revegetation planting and hydroseeding of the slope, according to a statement from the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor.

“Stabilizing the Del Mar Bluffs is crucial to ensuring safe and reliable rail operations and creating a faster, fairer, cleaner transportation system through SANDAG’s 2021 Regional Plan,” said the agency’s chair, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, when the work began last year.

The rail corridor is an economic lifeline for the San Diego region. As the second-busiest intercity corridor in the U.S., it serves 7.6 million passengers and moves $1 billion in goods and services each year.

Since 2003, SANDAG and NCTD have completed three stabilization projects along the bluffs between Coast Boulevard and Torrey Pines State Beach.

The bluffs experience erosion of up to an average of six inches per year over the last 25 years, largely due to storm water, irrigation runoff and sea-level rise.

SANDAG and NCTD have secured $68 million in funding for the Del Mar Bluffs Stabilization Phase 5. The Coastal Commission approved a Coastal Consistency Certification for the phase at their June meeting.

Construction for phase 5 is scheduled to begin in 2023 and will address additional seismic and general track and bluff stabilization needs, install additional support columns and replace aging drainage structures.

While the work continues to stabilize the bluffs, SANDAG is seeking additional funding to expedite the planning process to move the tracks inland as a long-term strategy to increase the reliability of passenger rail service.

The emergency repairs cost approximately $11 million and were paid for through a combination of state and local funds.

– City News Service



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Ellen Bullock