LOSSAN Working Group lines up funding to stabilize eroding bluffs in San Diego County, make rail corridor more resilient to climate change
SACRAMENTO – A vital section of railway on a quickly eroding cliffside in San Diego County is on a firmer path to continue to power California’s economy for decades to come, according to a report released today by the California State Transportation Agency.
The final report for the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) San Diego Regional Rail Corridor Working Group details progress to stabilize the Del Mar Bluffs – which support a 1.7-mile section of railway – and make them more resilient to the threats of climate change and rising sea levels.
Convened by California State Transportation Agency Secretary David S. Kim and consisting of federal, state and regional partners, the working group lined up the $98.7 million of estimated funding needed to stabilize the bluffs for the next 30 years. The group also streamlined the permitting process to fast-track the stabilization work and laid the foundation to examine a long-term solution away from the bluffs, which are eroding at an average of 6 inches a year and are already experiencing stability issues that have caused major service disruptions.
“In just one year, the LOSSAN Working Group made tremendous strides in strengthening the long-term viability of this critical section of railroad by setting the course for the Del Mar Bluffs to become more resilient against erosion and climate change-induced sea level rise,” Secretary Kim said. “Any disruption to rail service along the Del Mar Bluffs has devastating impacts to the entire Southern California economy, and the group’s efforts will help ensure passengers and essential goods will continue to travel along this beautiful section of coastline. I want to thank California Transportation Commission Commissioner Christine Kehoe for championing the call to stabilize the bluffs and all working group members for this extremely effective partnership.”
“At the start of 2020, SANDAG committed to finding $100 million to complete the Del Mar Bluffs Stabilization project,” said SANDAG Chair and City of Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “Through the efforts of the LOSSAN Working Group, we have successfully identified the funding needed to completely stabilize the bluffs in the short term. SANDAG remains committed to working with its partners on long-term efforts to relocate the tracks completely off the bluffs.”
“Securing the Del Mar Bluffs in the short term and relocating the railroad tracks off the bluffs in the long term remain as one of SANDAG’s priority projects for the region,” said former SANDAG Chair and Mayor of Poway Steve Vaus. “I couldn’t be prouder of our collective progress on the Del Mar Bluffs and extend my gratitude to CalSTA Secretary David Kim for his leadership on this pressing issue.”
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner service runs along the 351-mile LOSSAN Corridor, as do Metrolink and COASTER commuter rail services and freight rail serving the Port of San Diego. As evidenced during a disruption in service in late 2019, the precarious nature of the Del Mar Bluffs – with the center of the track within 15 feet of the cliffside at the nearest point – threaten the viability of the route without swift action to stabilize the bluffs.
“The LOSSAN Corridor is the backbone of Southern California’s rail network,” said Caltrans District 11 Director Gustavo Dallarda. “Stabilizing the Del Mar Bluffs is critically important to maintaining current freight and passenger service in the corridor and will enable additional improvements intended to make the corridor a competitive alternative to Interstate 5.”
“The San Diego portion of the LOSSAN corridor supports the movement of people and goods and is critical to our regional economy and national defense,” said Tony Kranz, North County Transit District (NCTD) Board Chair and Encinitas Councilmember. “NCTD is able to breathe a sigh of relief now that critical funding has been identified to stabilize and secure the Del Mar Bluffs so that passenger and freight trains can continue to operate safely and on time. NCTD appreciates the active participation and collaboration amongst key stakeholders to secure this funding for the Del Mar Bluffs.”
# # #