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San Clemente Rail Closure Update: Tuesday, Feb. 27

OCTA/Metrolink team began construction of a catchment wall that, once complete, will protect the tracks from sliding soil and debris

ORANGE – The OCTA and Metrolink team, along with contractor Condon-Johnson and Associates, began the construction of a catchment wall that will ultimately protect the OCTA-owned rail right of way from sliding soil and debris from the privately-owned San Clemente hillside.

Two large rigs began drilling today to subsequently place steel beams that will serve as the foundation for the catchment wall. This effort will be similar to the wall constructed last year below the nearby Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens.

The wall currently under construction at Mariposa Point is expected to stand between 10 and 15 feet above ground, approximately 200 feet in length, and be supported by steel beams that will be placed 30 feet below ground.

drilling rigs

BNSF freight traffic remains halted through the area because of continued hillside soil movement. The hillside and project are monitored hourly, and the team is working toward allowing freight trains to safely travel through the area as quickly as possible.

The wall is anticipated to be completed in mid-March, which will be followed by necessary track repairs. Regular passenger rail service may begin as early as late March or early April. The schedule is subject to change.

The project area includes several challenging elements that may affect the construction schedule, including a large sewer trunk line, a major reclaimed water line and a fiber communications trunk line that service San Clemente and the region.

For the latest updates and background, visit

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

drilling rigs

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.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly common for California’s transportation infrastructure to suffer storm-related damage, forcing closures and evacuations. Most recently, indefinite nightly closures were announced for a 6-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway north of Malibu, where storm damage sheared off stretches of the roadway. Additionally, roads and buildings in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes have suffered significant damage after record-setting rains have saturated the ground and accelerated a landslide.

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