OCTA performing emergency stabilization work
OCTA track stabilization crews clear vegetation.
RT&S has reported extensively on bluff failures in Del Mar and San Clemente over the past year. Now, the Orange County Transportation Authority and its contractor have begun construction activities to stabilize the railroad in South San Clemente, work that is expected to be completed in February.
OCTA is working with geotechnical contractor Condon-Johnson & Associates Inc. to perform emergency stabilization work to safely restore passenger rail service as soon as possible. Project engineers and geotechnical experts will continuously monitor the slope beside the track during construction.
Rail service could possibly resume before construction is completed in February. OCTA will work in partnership with all rail agencies to determine when service can safely restart.
“We are trying to complete this emergency work as quickly as possible, with safety continuing to guide all our actions,” said OCTA President Mark A. Murphy, also Mayor of Orange. “Like everyone else, we want to see Metrolink and Amtrak Pacific Surfliner safely crossing this area again. At the same time, we must first make sure that the track does not move anymore.
The construction schedule is subject to change, depending on several factors, including securing and manufacturing the necessary building materials and inclement weather.
Clearing of vegetation in the construction area took place the first week of November and the recent heavy rainstorm had no significant effect on the schedule or exacerbated ground movement. Initial grading work on the site began on Thursday November 10 and was expected to be in full swing from [yesterday](November 14).
Construction work is being completed on a slope along approximately 700 feet of rail between the ocean and the homes above the Cyprus Shore Homeowners Association.
This week, OCTA began notifying residents near the construction zone of the start of upcoming work, including:
- Mobilization of equipment on vacant land at Avenida de las Palmera and Calle Ariana to produce concrete for the project.
- Perform excavation and grading activities to prepare for the installation of ground anchors to stabilize the slope.
Hours of operation will be weekdays from approximately 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., for safety reasons and to minimize disruption to surrounding residents.
This work will involve drilling large steel anchors over 100 feet long into the bedrock of the slope adjacent to the railway line to prevent it from pushing the track further out to sea. The runway moved up to 28 inches between September 2021 and September 2022 due to storm surge and sand erosion on the coastal side and gradual hillside sliding on the other.
Passenger rail service, including Metrolink and Amtrak, was shut down in late September out of an abundance of caution and to allow for emergency repairs.
OCTA is working with state and federal authorities to secure the necessary funding to pay for the emergency construction, estimated at $12 million. In October, OCTA’s Board of Directors approved emergency construction, and that same day the California Transportation Commission met in special session and approved $6 million in emergency funding.
In addition to the immediate repair work, OCTA continues to examine long-term options to protect the rail line in this area and throughout the coastal region. OCTA’s priority is to work with all partners to advance slope stabilization to ensure the safety of all passengers traveling in the region.
For updates, visit www.octa.net/railimprovements.