ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA — Today, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, who serves as a Director of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), released a statement on Metrolink and Amtrak suspending passenger rail service between Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and Oceanside stations due to boulders and debris falling onto the tracks from new land movement yesterday in San Clemente. This follows a landslide damaging the Mariposa pedestrian and bike bridge two weeks ago, causing the City of San Clemente (City) to close off access to the bridge.
Metrolink crews were on site all day to assess the damage and are expected to begin removing portions of the Mariposa bridge severely damaged by the landslide.
“I understand that we all want to see the rail line reopened as quickly as possible and I have been in contact with OCTA all day tracking the progress. There is still no timeline set for the tracks to be cleared and for service to resume but we all understand the urgency and are working as quickly as possible and as safely as possible under difficult conditions,” said Supervisor Foley.
“Orange County residents and visitors deserve reliable public transportation that won’t be at risk of shutting down every time it rains. Solutions for protecting our rail corridor are long overdue. Each time rail service is suspended, it impacts residents, threatens our local economy, our national security, and our coastal way of life. I continue to work with our partners to help stranded riders in the short term and find solutions for rail stability in the long term,” added Supervisor Foley.
The Mariposa bridge, just north of the San Clemente Pier, is owned by the City. The bridge is within OCTA-owned rail right-of-way, which is leased to the City for the coastal trail.
All passenger rail service remains suspended indefinitely between the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Station and Oceanside for Metrolink to conduct emergency maintenance work in San Clemente with a timeline left to be determined.
Pacific Surfliner offers passengers a connecting bus between Irvine and Oceanside. Due to limited seating, a reservation is required. Learn more here.
Metrolink passengers traveling between Laguna Niguel and Oceanside are being encouraged to make other travel arrangements at this time.
This week’s suspension of service on the rail line is the fifth service interruption in the past three years. Once again, a vital stretch of Southern California’s rail infrastructure has been forced to close because the private property above the railroad has fallen onto the track.
Over the past three years, San Clemente’s eroding bluffs – on both city and private property – have repeatedly forced the closure of the rail line which has operated largely uninterrupted for more than 125 years.
Because of the recent bluff failures and impacts on the rail line from eroding city, county and state beaches, OCTA has laid out a phased approach to continue operating service with minimal interruptions.
As part of this effort, OCTA is working on two initiatives:
- The first study – the Orange County Coastal Rail Resiliency Study – evaluates strategies to ensure uninterrupted rail operations, including a detailed analysis of 7 miles of critical coastal track between Dana Point and San Clemente at the San Diego County line. The objective of this short- to medium-term study is to help ensure uninterrupted rail operations for the next 30 years. The first technical stakeholder meeting was held last week and a series of listening sessions are planned over the next several months with a wide variety of partners, stakeholders and the public to gather input.
- The second study will look longer term at a potential rail line relocation along the coast to an inland alignment between San Juan Capistrano and San Onofre State Beach, spanning 11 miles. Most of the rail line in the study area is approximately 200 feet or less from the coastline in south Orange County. This rail line is vulnerable to catastrophic failure due to changing environmental conditions and coastal erosion, rendering it inoperable for extended periods. OCTA has held conversations with the state and formally requested help in developing a long-term plan, including finding necessary funding.
For information on the developing studies, visit www.octa.net/CRRS.