Barrier wall to protect rail line impacted by landslide in San Clemente

David González Image
Thursday, February 8, 2024
Train tracks remain closed in San Clemente after landslide
Passenger rail service remains closed through San Clemente while limited freight service has been allowed to pass by carefully.

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Efforts to secure a failing hillside in San Clemente after a Jan. 24 landslide have been challenging for crews.

Passenger train service has been halted through the area and freight service has been limited.

The track is owned by the Orange County Transportation Authority and maintained by Metrolink.

"Throughout the rains over the past few week we have continued to see movement in the hillside," Metrolink spokesman Scott Johnson said.

"It's only about 50 feet from the middle of the track either to the left or right," he said. "Everything beyond that to the top of the bluff where the residents are, that's all private property."

Tarps were laid down to prevent moisture from all the rain seeping into the soil.

On Tuesday Metrolink still measured up to three feet of movement on the slope.

Johnson said that forced the complete shutdown of the rail line.

"Since September of 2021 this is actually the fifth different time that passenger rail service has been suspended in the San Clemente area due to hillside failures at three different locations," Johnson said.

However, inspection of the track on Wednesday deemed the area passable to freight trains starting later in the day.

Johnson said the declaration of a state of emergency because of the storms helps them address the problem right away.

"This allowed funds to become available for the building of a barrier wall along the right of way that is currently necessitating the track closure," he said.

Metrolink said the design and construction of the barrier wall in the impacted area will determine when passenger rail service will restart.