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Coastal Commission Approves Modifications To Del Mar Bluffs Project

FIle photo of a bluff in Del Mar taken on Feb. 25, 2020.

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: FIle photo of a bluff in Del Mar taken on Feb. 25, 2020.

The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved several modifications to the Del Mar Bluffs stabilization project Friday, which will allow the San Diego Association of Governments to continue with work in stage four of the project.

Modifications include an increase of three feet to the height of an existing retaining wall at the base of the bluffs near 12th Street, installation of four additional support columns along the upper bluffs near 12th Street and the repair of a small upper bluff failure near Seventh Street.

The newly approved work will further stabilize the Del Mar bluffs, which is a critical segment of the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo-San Diego rail corridor. SANDAG and North County Transit District are working together on the project. Phase 4 stabilization efforts cost approximately $5.8 million and are funded through a combination of federal, state and local sources.

"The California Coastal Commission's decision today will help ensure continued reliability for our county's major rail corridor, which is crucial for goods movement, commuters and supporting our nation's military," said SANDAG Chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus. "It is critical that we continue to reinforce this section of track in Del Mar, while exploring alternatives to move the tracks completely off the bluffs."

Phase four work is currently underway to install support columns to stabilize localized areas and seawalls, construct a drainage channel on top of the bluffs and repair concrete channels and storm drain outfalls. Construction on this phase began in spring and is expected to be complete later this year.

After a series of bluff erosion episodes in 2019, California State Transportation Agency Secretary David Kim established a coalition of stakeholders to address the short-term stabilization efforts, a long-term vision to move the tracks entirely off the bluffs and ways to improve the capacity, speed and safety of the San Diego coastal rail corridor. The working group is composed of local, state and federal leaders.

"The city of Del Mar recognizes the stabilization efforts are necessary and looks forward to working with SANDAG and all project partners on a future relocation of rail off of the bluffs," said Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland. "Secretary Kim's working group has brought the best and the brightest together to focus on the long- and short-term needs of the bluffs, and we're making significant strides."

This summer, SANDAG will seek nearly $36 million from the state's Trade Corridor Enhancement Program to complete construction of the fifth phase of bluff stabilization, which will include the installation of additional support columns along the bluffs, improved drainage infrastructure and new retaining walls.

SANDAG was awarded $5 million from the California State Transportation Agency and $11.6 million from the United States Department of Transportation earlier this year for future stabilization efforts.

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