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Bluff track sparks concerns over train tracks in Del Mar

Del Mar bluff collapse.png
Del Mar bluff collapse.png
Del Mar bluff collapse.png
Posted at 7:59 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 23:01:15-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Sunday morning's bluff collapse in Del Mar is concerning because of how close it was to the train tracks.

However, it's not uncommon, and in fact, it occurred in an area that's been scheduled for repair next year. The collapse took place on the bluffs just south of Fourth St. near Del Mar's border with Torrey Pines State Beach. It also came within 35 feet of the train tracks in that area.

"Now with the collapse in this area, we are going to advance our plan to make absolutely sure we don't have a concern with the stability of the tracks in that area," says SANDAG Director of Engineering and Construction John Haggerty.

SANDAG is working with the North County Transit District and other government agencies to find ways to safeguard the tracks that lie in the area of the collapse.

"At this point, we have a contractor available. We will be working with them to figure out how fast we can get the design completed, the materials in hand, and get the equipment out there. We are proposing to go very quickly but I don't have an exact time frame."

Studies have shown that bluff erosion occurs at an average of 6 inches a year. But lately, the Del Mar area has been experiencing large sections of cliff breaking off onto the beach below.

"With far more rain going into the soils, we've had more than the usual amount of collapses," says Geologist Dr. Pat Abbott. "So what just happened is a return to normal in the sense of timing and spacing. The only surprise about this landslide, or cliff failure, is what moment it occurred. You know it's going to happen, you just don't know when."

Dr. Abbott says besides mother nature and the ocean as contributing factors, trains play a big part as well.

"Feel the ground shake when a train goes by. That shaking ground causes the cliffs to fall, although not by itself. How many trains a day go through there, 50 or 70? Now multiply that times a year, multiply that by ten years. Does it add up to making the cliffs more unstable? The answer is yes."