A Coaster train heading north on the Del Mar bluffs. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved several modifications to the Del Mar Bluffs stabilization project Friday.

The changes will allow the San Diego Association of Governments to continue with work on stage four of the project, though other phases will follow.

Modifications include:

  • increasing the height of a retaining wall at the base of bluffs near 12th Street by three feet
  • installation of four additional support columns along the upper bluffs near 12th Street, and
  • repair of a small upper bluff failure near Seventh Street.

The new work will bolster the Del Mar bluffs. The area also makes up a critical segment of the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo-San Diego rail corridor.

SANDAG and North County Transit District share oversight of the project. Phase 4 stabilization efforts cost approximately $5.8 million in federal, state and local funding.

SANDAG Chair and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said the decision “will help ensure continued reliability for our county’s major rail corridor.”

“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,” he added.

The latest construction phase includes installing support columns, constructing a drainage channel atop the bluffs and repairing concrete channels and storm drain outfalls. Officials expect the work, which began in spring, to be completed later this year.

After a series of erosion problems on the bluffs last year, California State Transportation Agency Secretary David Kim established a coalition to address short-term stabilization efforts.

The panel also considered a long-term vision to move the tracks entirely off the bluffs. They will examine ways to improve the capacity, speed and safety of the San Diego coastal rail corridor as well.

Local, state and federal leaders make up the working group. Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland said the city looks forward to continuing to work with the stakeholders.

“We’re making significant strides,” she said.

In addition, SANDAG plans to seek nearly $36 million from the state to complete construction of the fifth stabilization phase.

SANDAG also received $5 million from the state transportation agency. The federal government added $11.6 million.

– City News Service

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