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.
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 and took 15 months to complete.
The emergency repairs consisted of the installation of additional piled support columns to stabilize the train tracks in the collapse 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's San Diego-area.
"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," SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said when the work began last year.
The LOSSAN corridor is an economic lifeline for the San Diego region. As the second-busiest intercity rail corridor in the United States, 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 coastal bluffs between Coast Boulevard and Torrey Pines State Beach.
The bluffs typically experience erosion of up to six inches per year on average over the last 25 years, largely due to storm water, wave action 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 phase 5 at their June 2022 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 SANDAG and NCTD work 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 Del Mar Bluffs emergency repairs cost approximately $11 million and were funded through a combination of state and local funds.