OCTA Board approves RFP for study to examine longer-term south coast stability solutions

March 15, 2023
The $2 million study will assess existing and future risks, as well as identify challenges to the maintenance and operations of rail service along the coastal rail line through Orange County.

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board approved issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for a two-year, $2 million South Coast Rail Infrastructure Feasibility Study and Alternative Concepts Analysis that will assess existing and future risks and identify challenges to the maintenance and operations of rail service along the coastal rail line through Orange County.

The RFP approved would be the first phase of a two-phase study that would see OCTA working with partners to analyze the issues threatening track stability and guide future planning efforts to find effective solutions.

Information shared at the end of February when OCTA approved its long-term framework to address ongoing challenges with the rail line indicated OCTA had identified grant funding to pay for the first phase of the study. The second phase is projected to cost $5 million, and the authority is pursuing external funding. Should the needed funding be secured, OCTA says the studies would progress concurrently.

OCTA says the first phase of the study will involve key stakeholders and technical experts. Collaboration with local, state and federal partners will be more firmly established throughout this planning process.

“While the priority has been to complete the emergency work as soon as possible, we are also moving forward quickly with our partners to find longer-term solutions,” said OCTA Chairman and Mayor of Yorba Linda Gene Hernandez. “This is just the beginning of an effort that will help us ensure that rail traffic can continue moving safely and efficiently through this corridor for passengers, commerce and our military interests.”

OCTA continues the emergency work along 700 feet of rail line in San Clemente. The track stopped shifting following installation of a row of ground anchors and tie-backs in late January. Weekend rail service resumed on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner on Feb. 4. A second row of ground anchors and tie-backs will be installed through early April, which should allow for regular weekday passenger service could resume.

“This area through San Clemente is a critical part of our corridor, connecting Los Angeles and San Diego and contributing to over 60 percent of our overall ridership,” said Jason Jewell, managing director of the LOSSAN Agency. “We’re happy to see that OCTA has started the process to ensure long-term corridor resiliency and fully support them through this journey. We are also looking forward to completion of construction and resuming full Pacific Surfliner service.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.