North County Transit District plans $82M in upgrades after Del Mar cliff collapse

Posted at 10:21 PM, Sep 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 16:17:04-04

DEL MAR, Calif., (KGTV)-- Two weeks after the major cliff collapse in at the Del Mar Bluffs, the North County Transit District (NCTD) announced their plans to ensure the stability and safety of the bluffs.

While there were no casualties, the collapse did serve as a wake-up call for the NCTD, the operator of the train tracks that sit just a few dozen feet from the cliff’s edge.

Friday, NCTD said in the last 20 years, they have done three bluff stabilization projects totaling $5 million. In the next two decades, they plan to spend $82 million in upgrades.

RELATED: Cliff collapses in Del Mar, briefly halting train traffic

But for now, they are working to block trespassers by building fences, and protect from erosion by planting trees near the tracks by December 2019.

Local surfer, Kyle Katzin does not think that will stop people from walking across the tracks.

"It’s extremely inconvenient, no doubt," Katzin said. "People are going to start going over it, under it. Cops are going to start getting people in trouble for jumping over it. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Frank Stonebanks leads a Citizens group in favor of removing the train tracks from the bluffs altogether. 

"There’s no question, what they’re doing now, is band-aids approach," Stonebanks said. "The natural erosion is not going to stop. You cannot stop Mother Nature. So we either get smart, re-route the train underground and off the bluffs now, and take some proactive steps, or we wait for a crisis.”

Geologist Pat Abbot says that crisis may happen sooner than we think. 

RELATED: New bridge over San Diego River opens for trains

"It’s so weak, see it just crumbles in my hands,” Abbott said, holding a chunk of fallen earth.
NCTD says moving the tracks away from the bluffs and into a tunnel would cost $3 Billion. So far, they have applied for $18 million federal grant. The rest is still up in the air. 

"I think what we have to do is come together, and figure out how we are going to access the kind of funding that’s going to make this possible and let’s just do it," Stonebanks said. 

There is no word on if or when the federal money will come through.