OCTA’s San Clemente Costs Climb as Agency Aims to Resume Weekday Service in April

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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Repairs have been ongoing on OCTA’s shore line despite heavy rains.

Following several weeks of inclement weather that hindered track stabilization efforts in San Clemente, California, the Orange County Transportation Authority has a new target for resuming weekday service between San Diego and Orange counties: April.

Passenger service at OCTA’s San Clemente location was suspended in late September due to movement in the beach-side tracks caused by a landslide that continuously posed hazards to service. Amtrak restored weekend service on Feb. 4 after assessments found that the initial work had halted the slide. Weekday passenger service is now slated to return in April, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune

OCTA Executive Director of Capital Programs Jim Beil said Feb. 13 in an update to the agency’s board of directors that the current estimate for work to stabilize the landslide site is $13.7 million, an increase from the prior prediction of $12 million.

The estimated costs do not include fees being negotiated for the additional right-of-way required to install stabilization devices along the tracks or the costs to obtain a coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission, the Union-Tribune reported. 

“Slope sloughing” has been identified in the hillside above the tracks in recent weeks, according to Biel. Crews installed soil nails—a shorter version of the 220 ground anchors being used at the site—to stabilize the area, he said. 

To make room for a safe workplace, soil from the drilling area had to be transported to an off-site storage area near the San Onofre State Beach, according to the Union-Tribune. The soil will be returned and used to cover the ground anchors once they are all in place.

Metrolink trains, which regularly run as far south as Oceanside, are currently only running as far south as the San Clemente Pier Station due to the construction underway. Freight service has been maintained during the project, however trains must pass slowly and infrequently across the work site. 

OCTA is considering both short and long-term possibilities for protecting the tracks at San Clemente, Chief Executive Officer Darrell Johnson said at the Feb. 13 meeting. Long-term options could include ideas for extending the railroad inland, Johnson said. The district has yet to identify an inland path for probable relocation.

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