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San Clemente Rail Closure Update: Tuesday, Feb. 20

With additional soil movement, freight trains halted overnight; first meeting held with contractor to begin planning for catchment wall construction

ORANGE – The privately owned slope above the rail line in San Clemente at Mariposa Point (Milepost 204.2) continued to creep into the rail right of way as rain doused the region on Tuesday, enough that freight rail trips were halted through the area overnight.

Throughout the day Tuesday, the OCTA and Metrolink team remained on site to secure plastic tarping on the slope above the track in the emergency work area. Even with the tarps, some rain continued to get into the already saturated slope.

Movement of the slope accelerated from about 1 to 2 inches before the rain to about 10 to 12 inches. Because of the significant slope movement and out of an abundance of caution, the OCTA and Metrolink project team halted BNSF freight rail traffic, which had been making overnight trips. The track remained stable. The team planned to inspect and re-evaluate on Wednesday.

Plans to build a catchment wall to protect the track continued to move forward with last week’s allocation by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) of an additional $7.2 million to OCTA to support track protection. With those funds secured, Metrolink also awarded a contract the same day to construct the wall.

On Tuesday, the project team held its first pre-construction meeting with the contractor, Condon-Johnson & Associates, to begin mobilizing and planning for the start of construction. The team is determining the final specifications for the wall, which is intended to catch any soil or debris from falling into the rail right of way.

The tentative plan calls for construction activities to begin as soon as next week, weather permitting. The team is also developing a timeline for safely resuming limited passenger rail service as soon as possible. A more accurate construction timeline should be formulated once the current storms pass and the team can re-evaluate site conditions.

For the latest updates and background, visit

For Updates on Rail Service: Passengers are asked to check and for real-time updates.

Background: The rail line was closed through San Clemente the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 24, when a landslide on private property above the city-owned Mariposa Trail Pedestrian Bridge caused major damage to the bridge and scattered debris onto the track.

OCTA, which owns the track, worked with partners at Metrolink and contractors to quickly mobilize emergency crews, who used heavy machinery on the rails to remove debris and haul away two large spans of the bridge, each weighing 24,000 pounds. The OCTA and Metrolink team continues to work to resume safe passenger rail service as soon as possible.

Over the past three years, San Clemente’s eroding bluffs – on both city and private property – have repeatedly forced the closure of the rail line which has operated largely uninterrupted for more than 125 years.

plastic tarping

plastic tarping
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