For the second time in 2023, Metrolink and Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner will resume passenger rail service through San Clemente following a landslide, as the Orange County Transportation Authority announced service is scheduled to start again on Monday, July 17.
The announcement on Tuesday, July 11, comes one day after the OCTA Board of Directors was informed about the upcoming completion of work to construct a track protection wall near the base of the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens.
“Metrolink and OCTA worked in partnership to build the temporary barrier wall on an emergency basis to protect the tracks, so passenger service could safely resume as soon as possible,” Metrolink said in a press release. “The city of San Clemente continues work to stabilize the hillside for the long-term.”
The Casa Romantica property experienced landslides on April 27 and June 5, with both prompting the railroad entities to suspend service between South Orange County and North San Diego County after debris fell into the track’s right of way.
Construction crews contracted by OCTA, which owns the track through Orange County, began work on June 27 to build a 12-foot-high, 250-foot-long wall in the right of way. Work included driving 32 steel soldier piles into the ground.
At the OCTA board’s meeting on Monday, July 10, Jim Beil, the executive director of Capital Programs, said remaining work on the project included putting up the timber in between each soldier pile and cleaning up the area. Beil also said he expected rail service to begin next week.
After the April 27 landslide at Casa Romantica, during which a portion of the property’s back patio and landscaping fell roughly 25 feet down the hillside, the City of San Clemente performed slope stabilization work that included smoothing over the slope and removing soil to lighten the burden on the hillside.
The work briefly assuaged OCTA and Metrolink’s consideration of building a retaining wall, as rail service resumed on May 27.
City officials first noticed further movement on June 3, followed by a more dramatic slide on June 5, causing the OCTA board to approve taking emergency actions to resolve the situation.
The barrier wall is temporary, as mandated by the California Coastal Commission within the Emergency Coastal Development Permit it issued for the project. The wall will be removed once the city completes its own further stabilization work on the Casa Romantica property.