Ahead of rain, plastic covering installed over sliding San Clemente hillside
In advance of Thursday's expected storm, plastic tarp was installed over a San Clemente hillside that gave way in early January, damaging a pedestrian bridge and forcing another suspension of commuter rail service between Orange and San Diego counties.
Metrolink and Amtrak service has been suspended since last Wednesday between the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Oceanside stations due to the landslide that again sent boulders and debris onto the tracks and damaged the Mariposa Trail Bridge in San Clemente.
There was still no word on when passenger rail would resume, but the tracks have been cleared enough to allow freight trains to use the tracks — at a maximum of 10 mph — during overnight hours this week. Orange County Transportation Authority officials said the tracks were being inspected immediately before freight trains pass through the area to ensure safety.
With heavy rain anticipated Thursday and again early next week, a portion of the saturated hillside was covered with plastic Tuesday, with more plastic covering being installed Wednesday.
As part of the repair work, crews have been installing pipes and ballast to improve water drainage from the hillside in hopes of preventing more saturation of the ground.
OCTA officials said the hillside is continuing to move, but "it has slowed significantly."
The much-used tracks in San Clemente endured a pair of extended closures last year due to mudslides and debris. The first occurred in April near the Casa Romantica Culture Center and Gardens, blocking the tracks for a month while repairs were completed. Another mudslide occurred in the same general area on June 5, prompting another rail closure that lasted for nearly six weeks.
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