THE San Diego Association of Governments (Sandag) has appointed engineering and environmental consultancy HDR to lead environmental clearance work and advanced conceptual engineering for the project to relocate an 8km section of the Los Angeles - San Diego line within the City of Del Mar.

This single-track section runs along coastal bluffs that are now rapidly eroding and threatened by rising sea levels. Concerns over coastal erosion at San Clemente to the north forced the suspension of both Amtrak Pacific Surfliner services and Metrolink commuter trains between October 2022 and April 2023.

While a new double-track alignment will be constructed away from the bluffs, the project team is currently analysing the best alternative track realignment strategy, including a tunnel portion between the Los Penasquitos lagoon and San Dieguito lagoon.

As well as improving safety and service reliability, the new alignment will be the first section of the Los Angeles - San Diego - San Luis Obispo (Lossan) rail corridor designed for a maximum speed of 176km/h, paving the way for further speed improvements.

HDR has worked with Sandag since 2020 on the San Diego Regional Rail Alternatives Analysis and Conceptual Engineering Study that has formed the basis of the Del Mar realignment project.

The consultancy will now work with Mott MacDonald, and other contractors including small businesses, to complete environmental clearance under California’s Environmental Quality Act and the US federal Environmental Policy Act.

The objective is to obtain environmental clearance in 2026 and open the new alignment by 2035.

“Not only is it a vital project that will keep our community connected to a national resource, but it’s also a crucial step towards addressing climate change,” says HDR principal in charge, Mr Rob Klovsky.

“This project is all about protecting a critical rail corridor and an economic lifeline for our region,” says HDR project manager, Mr Lorenzo Garrido.

“I am excited to be part of delivering the long-term solution of relocating the tracks from the coastal bluffs that will be a lasting benefit for future generations.”

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