By C. Jayden Smith
The Orange County Transportation Authority’s emergency stabilization project in south San Clemente is reportedly on schedule to conclude by February 2023, according to a presentation the California Coastal Commission received Wednesday, Dec. 14.
Jason Lee, an OCTA project manager, updated the commission on the construction that began in mid-November. The project scope includes driving in ground anchors on the land side of the railroad tracks to halt an ongoing landslide and any further movement westward, as well as placing riprap on the ocean side, protecting against direct erosion to the tracks.
To date, workers have completed numerous excavations, begun installation of ground anchors, and are expected to start construction of the track’s bottom row.
In early October, the OCTA Board of Directors issued an emergency need for stabilization, and soon after the agency partnered with geotechnical contractor Condon-Johnson and Associates to work on the $12 million project.
“Inclinometers showed accelerated movement of 0.01 to 0.04 inches per day, so immediate action was required to stabilize the main landslide area,” Lee said Wednesday.
The emergency permit CCC approved for the project was the third since September 2021 to address the 700-foot stretch under the CyprusShores neighborhood. A fourth was issued on Nov. 15 regarding the tracks’ eastern side.
Commuter rail service between South Orange County and Oceanside has been halted since September, when movement on the track in south San Clemente was detected for the second time in as many years, prompting the latest stabilization project.
In late October, Metrolink resumed limited weekend services to as far south as the San Clemente Pier.
Regarding climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, OCTA has completed four strategies including a hazard mitigation plan and previous riprap railroad stabilization in San Clemente in 2021.
Currently, the agency is working on a climate adaptation and sustainability plan in addition to the ongoing stabilization project, and looks to complete a South Orange County Rail Corridor Feasibility Study moving forward.
The study involves assessing existing and future risks associated with the tracks in South County, identifying short-, mid-, and long-term solutions, and determining strategies for rail alignment.
“Some of our next steps we’re looking at (include working) with Coastal Commission staff to review vulnerable areas along the 7-mile stretch of the coastal rail corridor that is from Dana Point to San Clemente,” said Lee.
The vulnerable areas without existing riprap include portions surrounding the Shorecliffs Beach Club, the San Clemente Pier, and parts of Trestles Beach.
Lee requested that the commission consider revising the existing maintenance permit to allow for future riprap maintenance to reduce the number of emergency permits necessary as coastal erosion continues.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.