Rail service suspended for weekend work on Del Mar bluffs

A northbound Coaster train arrives at the Poinsettia train station in Carlsbad.

No commuter, passenger or freight service Saturday and Sunday


All rail service between Oceanside and San Diego will be suspended Saturday and Sunday for what’s called an “absolute work window,” according to the San Diego Association of Governments.

Most of the work during the suspension will be on the Del Mar bluffs stabilization project that began this summer and continues earlier efforts to reinforce and protect the railroad bed in an area threatened by coastal erosion.

This weekend, crews will be drilling holes into the bluffs near 12th Street, placing anchors and filling the holes with concrete. They also will install additional support columns in the upper bluffs near Torrey Pines State Beach, states a SANDAG announcement.

California Transportation Commission Chair Hilary Norton, SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata and North County Transit District Executive Director Matt Tucker are expected to visit the job site Friday morning, Oct. 2.

The construction now underway is the fourth of six phases in a stabilization project begun more than 20 years ago along 1.7 miles of the tracks on the edge of the bluffs in Del Mar. So far, more than 200 concrete and steel support columns have been installed. The fourth phase, which also includes seawall replacements and drainage improvements, is expected to finish later this fall.

A fifth phase of work is now in design, with construction to start next summer. SANDAG and NCTD this year alone have secured about half of the $100 million in expected design and construction costs for the fifth and sixth phases, SANDAG officials said.

SANDAG’s long-term plans call for the tracks to eventually be relocated inland through tunnels away from the Del Mar bluffs, an effort expected to take more than a decade and cost at least $3 billion.

Minor construction work also is planned over the weekend on the Mid-Coast Trolley project to extend trolley service from the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego to the University of California San Diego area. That project is expected to finish in late 2021.

Train service is expected to resume about 5 a.m. Monday. Another absolute work window is scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 17 and 18, which probably will be the last suspension this year.

— Phil Diehl is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune