Work to secure train tracks in San Clemente could begin this week – Orange County Register

A geotechnical contractor has been selected to begin emergency work to stabilize a damaged rail line south of San Clemente, where an ancient landslide and waves slamming against the shore combined to move the tracks and end the service earlier this month to bring to a halt.

The Orange County Transportation Authority announced Friday, October 14, that it has struck a deal with Condon-Johnson & Associates Inc., with work tentatively scheduled to begin this week.

The hope is to complete the first phase of the project over the next 90 days, during which engineers and geotechnical experts will monitor the slope along the route.

The construction schedule is subject to change depending on several factors, including right-of-way negotiations, permitting, securing necessary construction materials and weather, OCTA officials warned in their announcement. All rail agencies will then decide together when rail passenger transport can safely be resumed.

Restoration of passenger services could be as early as 60 days – mid-December – and the project is expected to be completed by mid-January, officials said. The new estimates are at least a month later, maybe two, than OCTA staff originally anticipated during an emergency meeting less than two weeks ago.

“We are breaking new ground with this emergency stabilization work, and as we’ve been saying all along, passenger safety guides all of our actions,” OCTA Chairman Mark A. Murphy, also Mayor of Orange, said in a statement. “We want this work to be done as quickly as possible, but we need to make sure it’s done right and the runway is safe first.”

The rail work involves drilling large steel anchors into the hillside bedrock adjacent to the railroad tracks to prevent the rails from being shifted any further towards the ocean.

In September 2021, heavy rain, high tides and rough seas caused movement on the same stretch of track adjacent to the Cyprus Shore Homeowners Association and was also damaged. Metrolink and Amtrak suspended passenger rail service through the area for about three weeks, and the line was stabilized by laying more than 18,000 tons of rockfill along the shoreline.

Towards the end of last month, Metrolink and Amtrak again halted all passenger train service through the area pending further stabilization efforts.

The track has moved up to 28 inches in the past 13 months due to storm surges and sand erosion on the coastal side and the gradually sliding hills on the inland side.

Monitoring in the area found that tracks have moved from 0.01 inches to 0.04 inches per day since the last major storm, OCTA officials said.

Meanwhile, contractors have continued to add large boulders or rock fills to the shoreline to further secure the existing overlay. Work to secure train tracks in San Clemente could begin this week – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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