State budget to fund NCTD's Del Mar Bluff stabilization project

July 1, 2019
NCTD and its rail partners operate 24/7 along the LOSSAN coastal corridor and through the Del Mar Bluffs area, which experiences natural erosion.

With the help of California Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, the North County Transit District (NCTD) will receive $6.13 million this year to be used on Del Mar Bluff stabilization projects. The securement of this funding allocation was finalized on June 27, 2019, when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state budget into law.

“I’m really excited that we were able to secure more than $6 million this year as part of an ongoing effort to stabilize the bluffs and ensure that we protect a vital transit corridor for San Diego County,” said Sen. Atkins.

NCTD Board Chair Tony Kranz commented: “This particular project is critical for the movement of goods and people throughout our region. It’s heartening to know that when government gets focused on these important issues that we can get things done very quickly.”

The funding that Sen. Atkins helped to secure is critical for SANDAG and NCTD as they complete the next two phases of bluff stabilization: Project 5 (DMB5) and Project 6 (DMB6).

DMB5 secures the bluffs for the next 20 to 30 years and improves seismic resistance. It includes the evaluation of seismic and static stabilization needs, the addition of piling and tie backs, replacement of old drainage structures, and localized lagging as bluff retreat accelerates.

DMB6 will fund the analysis and selection, environmental clearance, and development of construction plans for additional stabilization measures, including bluff toe protection, bluff face stabilization, lagging installation, and the consideration of coastal access.

NCTD and its rail partners—Amtrak, Metrolink, BNSF and PacSun—operate 24/7 along the LOSSAN coastal corridor and through the Del Mar Bluffs area. Each year, these tracks carry approximately 4.1 million riders and 4.8 million tons of freight along the San Diego subdivision. As such, the maintenance of the tracks and the bluffs they sit on are vital to the movement of people and interstate commerce.

The Bluffs experience natural erosion resulting from earthquakes, rain, ground water flows, breaking waves, wind, and inclement weather, along with erosion resulting from rodents and people walking along them.

Engineering studies show the need for action to ensure the safe operations of passenger and freight rail service. Since the summer of 2018, six bluff failures have been reported in the Del Mar Bluffs area resulting in train traffic delays as NCTD ensures that the bluffs are safe for rail operations.

Over the next five years, NCTD looks forward to improving service frequencies on COASTER to every 30 minutes. By 2020, NCTD plans to have 68 passenger trains running daily. However, these increased frequencies are reliant on well-maintained tracks throughout the system, which includes this 1.7 mile stretch through the Del Mar Bluffs.

NCTD is grateful to Sen. Atkins for her support in securing this vital funding for the bluff stabilization projects.