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SANDAG makes progress in repairing Del Mar bluffs, next phase to begin

Bluff repairs were underway March 19 on the coastal bluffs below the train tracks in Del Mar.
Bluff repairs were underway March 19 on the coastal bluffs below the train tracks in Del Mar.
(Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

This month, SANDAG construction crews reached another major milestone in repairing the Del Mar bluffs, part of a multi-phased project to ensure the integrity and safety of the nearby Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail corridor, according to a SANDAG news release. Crews successfully graded the bluffs; constructed a keyway, or foundation, that strengthened the bluffs; and rebuilt the slope from the ground up.

The LOSSAN corridor is an economic lifeline for the San Diego region, the news release stated. As the second-busiest intercity rail corridor in the United States, it serves 7.6 million passengers and moves $1 billion in goods and services each year.

“Stabilizing the Del Mar bluffs is crucial to ensuring safe and reliable rail operations and creating a faster, fairer, cleaner transportation system through SANDAG’s 2021 Regional Plan,” said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear in the news release. “The draft 2021 Regional Plan will help enact a long-term strategy to move the tracks completely off the bluffs, ensuring the LOSSAN corridor can continue to serve the San Diego region for generations to come.”

Following the completion of the recent improvements, crews will begin construction of a new seawall just south of 4th Street in the City of Del Mar. The work will include drilling holes along the beach; placing piles, or underground support columns, in the holes; and reinforcing them with concrete. Crews will later place wooden beams, or lagging, between the exposed portions of the piles to create the seawall. This work is necessary to protect the base of the bluffs from sea level rise and erosion, according to the news release.

During ongoing bluff repair work, beachgoers are encouraged to use caution near construction areas and avoid construction zones whenever possible. Typical work hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., though hours may vary based on current tidal levels. Work is expected to continue through fall 2021.

While crews construct sea walls on the beach, flaggers will be present to safely direct equipment to and from the work area. Crews will use the North Torrey Pines State Beach parking lot as a staging area to accommodate access for heavy equipment onto the beach.

Crews will minimize impacts to the public to the maximum extent possible. Please note, construction schedules are subject to change.

The Del Mar bluffs emergency repairs cost approximately $11 million and are made possible through a combination of state and local funds, the news release stated.

Learn more about ongoing bluff stabilization efforts at KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/DelMarBluffs.


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