$300 million secured for plan to move train tracks off crumbling Del Mar bluffs

The San Diego region is expected to receive $300 million to help relocate railroad tracks on eroding cliffs in Del Mar, regional transportation officials announced Friday.

The funding comes as part of the $308 billion California state budget signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom this week, which also includes $4.2 billion to complete the state’s high-speed rail project in the Central Valley between Bakersfield and Merced.

Portions of the coastal bluffs in Del Mar have collapsed sharply in recent years, bringing Coaster and Amtrak service to a temporary halt for hours or days at a time. Transit officials have reassured the public that passenger and freight trains along the city’s 1.7 miles of tracks are safe, but landslides have repeatedly raised the specter of disaster.

Nearby Torrey Pines State Beach saw a large collapse Wednesday that sent boulders larger than a car tumbling onto the sand. No one was injured, according to law enforcement.

The San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, and the North County Transit District have spent millions of dollars to shore up the rocks and repair drainage structures for stormwater, which along with high tides have steadily eroded the rocks.

But top state and local officials have recognized the need to eventually move the lines inland, a project currently slated to cost about $2.5 billion, according to SANDAG officials. Previous estimates have been as high as $4 billion.

The new cash infusion will allow SANDAG to compete for equity from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year, said SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata.

“That $300 million is a critical down payment,” he said. “We’ve talked for years about moving the rail lines out of Del Mar Bluffs, and with this funding, we can now do it.”

Ikhrata said his agency already has a plan for the project that would take the lines in a tunnel about 80 feet underground and inland nearly a mile. Pending environmental review, the project could begin within three years and be completed by the end of the decade, he said.

The tracks at Del Mar are part of the 351-mile Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo, or LOSSAN, Rail Corridor — which carries about 8 million passengers and more than $1 billion worth of freight each year. The line is a key link between factories in Mexico and markets in the United States.

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$300 million secured for plan to move train tracks off crumbling Del Mar bluffs Source link $300 million secured for plan to move train tracks off crumbling Del Mar bluffs

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