Fri. May 24th, 2024

Transportation Officials Discuss OC’s Collapsing Coastal Railway

By ki0nk Mar18,2024
News

During the process of determining what the future holds for a rail line that is older than the county, the leaders of Orange County are getting set to make an investment of two hundred million dollars in the reinforcement of a seven-mile length of coastal maritime railway.

Since it first opened its doors in 1888, the Pacific Surfliner train has been a source of near-constant frustration for the leaders of the local community in recent years.

Since September 2021, there have been five closures that have occurred as a result of a succession of rockslides, flooding, and slope failures. Many local politicians have attributed these events to climate change.

According to a presentation given by the Orange County Transportation Authority, the rail line had only been shut down three times in the thirty-three years before to that.

Despite the fact that the train line extends from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, all of the accidents that have occurred in Orange County have taken place along a seven-mile stretch of beach that extends from San Clemente to the northern tip of San Diego County. The majority of this stretch of coastline is less than 200 feet away from saltwater.

This particular section of the rail line is owned by the Orange County Transportation Authority, which is administered by a board consisting of local city council members and county supervisors. This board is beginning to receive a lot more attention from the general public in light of the questions that have been raised over the future of the rail line.

However, on Monday of this week, the officials of the agency had an open and honest conversation about the future of the rail line and the exact amount of money that it was going to cost the taxpayers.

According to Dan Phu, a program manager at the transportation authority, “There is not going to be a single solution that will fix everything.” Due to the fact that we are facing difficulties on both the seaward side and the inland side, the situation is incredibly difficult to deal with.

According to a presentation that was given by staff members of the transportation authority on Monday, the damage to the rails has already compelled the authority to invest more than $37 million in the process of repairing the lines. This investment has been made using the authority’s own finances in addition to subsidies from the state and the federal government.

Phu identified four areas that require immediate reinforcing and suggested several course of action, including the construction of a barrier wall to prevent any landslides from hurling debris onto the track and the addition of additional rocks along the coast to absorb the majority of any erosion that may occur from the ocean.

It is anticipated that these reinforcements will cost approximately two hundred million dollars, and the staff has stated that they desired to begin work within the following five months.

This information was provided by Eric Carpenter, a spokeswoman for the transportation authority, who stated that the organization is currently looking for financing to cover such adjustments.

“The OCTA does not currently have funding for this effort to help keep the rail line open,” Carpenter said in a statement. “However, we would continue to work with state and federal partners to explore all funding options,” Carpenter said.

However, those recommendations were met with considerable resistance from a number of board members. OC Supervisor Katrina Foley brought up studies that demonstrated that coastal armoring with stones can hasten the process of beach erosion.

It’s almost as if we’re in a circle right now. As we continue to armor, the beaches continue to deteriorate, and the erosion continues to worsen in the vicinity of the area that we have armored, until the beaches are completely gone, as Foley explained. This is something that I have been bringing up since the year 2021, and I intend to continue doing so until we take some action.

As an additional proposal, Foley suggested the establishment of a “regional stockpile hub,” which would consist of sediment that could be utilized to refill numerous locations along the coast, or the removal of sand from the Prado Dam.

Phu stated that their objective was to first ensure the safety of the railroad prior to focusing on the replenishment of the sand.

Jamey Federico, the mayor of Dana Point, also brought attention to the fact that these preparations are intended to ensure that the train line is able to survive the upcoming winter without experiencing another collapse.

According to Federico, “The details that are included in this document are the shortest of the short term plans; these are not the solutions that are for the longer term.” “The fact of the matter is that sand erosion or sand famine can be attributed to a variety of factors. Not only are we attempting to safeguard the train tracks, but we are also a part of a much larger geographical problem.

Phu also mentioned that further votes would be brought back before the board later for the purpose of determining what decisions they would make to stabilize the coastline. This was despite the fact that the board did not take any votes on the topic on Monday.

The body in charge of transportation will also keep an eye on seven additional spots along the shore to make sure that those sections do not begin to give way as well.

In the near future, there are also plans to collect feedback from residents of San Clemente and other counties along the coast. These plans include holding a Zoom meeting on April 11 and an in-person meeting in San Clemente on May 21. A Zoom meeting will take place.

The conclusion of the investigation is not expected to be made public until the autumn of the following year.

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By ki0nk

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