Rain Delays Work on San Clemente Railroad Stabilization Project

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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OCTA track stabilization crews clearing vegetation.

The Orange County Transportation Authority’s San Clemente slope stabilization project has been halted recently due to rain, raising questions about whether the delay will extend the suspension of passenger train service on the county’s sole railroad link between Orange and San Diego counties.

“It’s too wet to work,” Orange County Transportation Authority spokesman Joel Zlotnik told the San Diego Union Tribune. “They go out each morning and check to see if conditions are OK to work. We’ve said all along weather could be a factor.”

A reoccurring landslide in a 700-foot-wide portion close to the Cyprus Shore community in San Clemente has caused Metrolink and Amtrak passenger service between the two counties to be discontinued since Sept. 30. To stop additional slippage, construction workers are putting ground anchors in the slope above the railroad.

When movement was found at the San Clemente site in September of 2021, officials suspended passenger service for roughly two weeks. Construction was halted during that time, and 18,000 tons of boulders were added to the beach revetment to support the slope. In recent months, more boulders have been added.

Zlotnik told the Tribune that there had not been additional movement seen on the slope. Before September, the slope had pushed the rails closer to the water by more than 28 inches in just over a year.

As of now, the OCTA website maintains that project work is expected to continue through February. 

The project construction costs are estimated to be about $12 million. In October, the California Transportation Commission approved $6 million in emergency funding for the project. The remaining funds are expected to come from the federal Surface Transportation Block Grant Program.

Additional reporting on the San Clemente slope stabilization project by RT&S can be found here.