At Monday’s meeting, the OCTA Board approved releasing a request for proposals for the South Coast Rail Infrastructure Feasibility Study and Alternative Concepts Analysis, which will work with partners to analyze the issues threatening track stability and guide future planning efforts to find effective solutions.
The action comes just two weeks after the OCTA Board approved a framework for addressing the rail issues in Orange County to help ensure uninterrupted rail service for passenger and goods movement along the second busiest rail line in the nation.
“While the priority has been to complete the emergency work as soon as possible, we are also moving forward quickly with our partners to find longer-term solutions,” said OCTA Chairman Gene Hernandez, also the Mayor of Yorba Linda. “This is just the beginning of an effort that will help us ensure that rail traffic can continue moving safely and efficiently through this corridor for passengers, commerce and our military interests.”
This planning study is expected to take approximately two years, assessing existing and future risks and identifying challenges to the maintenance and operations of rail service along the coastal rail line through Orange County.
The study will involve key stakeholders and technical experts. Collaboration with local, state and federal partners will be more firmly established throughout this planning process. The study is estimated to cost $2 million, with grant funding already identified. It will provide the framework for future efforts to mitigate the risk to track stability.
This study is the first step of a phased approach to examine short- to medium-term solutions that would protect the existing rail line. A separate second-phase study would look at longer-term options including potential relocation of the rail line.
The second-phase study is estimated to cost $5 million, and OCTA is currently seeking external funding. If this funding is secured, the studies would move forward concurrently.
Emergency Work Continues
The emergency work along 700 feet of rail line in south San Clemente continues. Following heavy rains recently that delayed construction, crews resumed weekday work on Monday morning to install ground anchors and tie-backs to secure the hillside next to the tracks.
Since the first row of ground anchors was completed in late January, the track has stopped shifting, which allowed weekend passenger rail service to safely resume. On Feb. 4, the LOSSAN Rail Authority, which operates Amtrak’s popular Pacific Surfliner, restarted weekend passenger service.
OCTA continues to work with its contractor on weekdays to install a second row of ground anchors and tie-backs to further secure the hillside next to the track. That work is scheduled to continue into early April, when regular weekday passenger service could resume, according to an update to the Board presented Monday.
“This area through San Clemente is a critical part of our corridor, connecting Los Angeles and San Diego and contributing to over 60% of our overall ridership,” said Jason Jewell, Managing Director of the LOSSAN Agency. “We’re happy to see that OCTA has started the process to ensure long-term corridor resiliency and fully support them through this journey. We are also looking forward to completion of construction and resuming full Pacific Surfliner service.”
Metrolink continues to operate weekend passenger rail service only as far south as the San Clemente Pier Station. Metrolink and Amtrak passengers are asked to keep checking pacificsurfliner.com/alerts and metrolinktrains.com for updates on rail service and schedules.
For more information on the current emergency work, visit www.octa.net/railimprovements.