An Amtrak train on the Del Mar bluffs
An Amtrak train on the Del Mar bluffs. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Local officials received $10.5 million from the state Thursday to complete repairs along the Del Mar Bluffs following a late February collapse.

The funds were awarded to the San Diego Association of Governments and North County Transit District.

“This funding will make it possible to complete emergency repairs that are critical to ensuring the LOSSAN rail line – the second busiest in the nation – can continue operations while SANDAG explores plans to permanently move the tracks off the bluffs,” said SANDAG Chair and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

The state’s Interregional Transportation Improvement Program is administered by the California Transportation Commission. In this case, it benefits the six counties linked by rail, from San Luis Obispo through Los Angeles to San Diego.

On Feb. 28, a portion of the bluffs collapsed just south of Fourth Street in Del Mar. Geotechnical experts determined train service could continue safely, but at a reduced speed.

Over the course of two weekend closures in March, SANDAG construction crews successfully stabilized the area. More work is planned to ensure the reliability and safety of the tracks.

By July, construction crews hope to have installed 18 support columns along the upper bluffs and build a new seawall along the beach to reinforce the base of the bluffs.

“I am proud of the work our regional agencies have done to act quickly and secure this vital funding,” said NCTD Chair Tony Kranz, an Encinitas councilman. “This quick and effective collaboration is a perfect example of what we can achieve when we work together as a region toward a common goal.”

Since 2003, SANDAG and NCTD have completed four stabilization projects along coastal bluffs between Coast Boulevard and Torrey Pines State Beach. Crews have installed more than 230 support columns, while officials have invested in drainage infrastructure to help reinforce and protect the Del Mar bluffs.

The final two phases of the broader six-phase bluff project include addressing additional seismic and general stabilization needs, installing additional columns and replacing older drainage structures.

Phase 5 is already funded through construction. Phase 6 will provide long-term rehabilitation, including protecting the base of the bluffs against additional retreat.