The purpose of the proposed project is to secure the railroad track bed in its existing alignment after a bluff failure. On February 28, 2021 an existing seawall built in 1912 collapsed because of ongoing wave erosion at the toe of the bluffs, which caused the material the wall was securing to fall onto the beach below. This material amounts to approximately 3,000 CY and consists mostly of artificial fill that was placed over a former drainage pipe in the area immediately east of the collapsed seawall. The material collapsed onto land owned both by the North County Transit District and the State of California.
Currently, there is a significant continued risk to public safety due to the active movement and instability of the bluff. The beach at the bottom of the bluff failure is actively used by the public for recreation and the failure creates a safety hazard. Trains currently must travel under slow orders (passenger trains at 15 mph and freight at 10 mph) with full time monitoring of the bluff and track until the repairs are complete and the area is deemed safe. Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner intercity passenger rail service through the proposed project area is the nation’s second busiest, serving six counties and 351 miles of the southern California coastline. In addition to Amtrak, this rail corridor is shared with COASTER commuter rail services and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway and Pacific Sun freight services. There may be a subsequent bluff failure in this same area if the proposed project is not implemented immediately.
A Right-of-Entry permit from the State of California is required for access to the emergency repair area. The proposed project consists of remedial grading of the collapsed fill back into the slope, installing soldier piles in the upper bluff just west of the existing tracked, reconstructing the slope, and installing a new, longer seawall at the location of the collapsed seawall. Access through an existing State Parks parking lot, through an existing beach access road, and through State Park land is required to reach the repair area.