Surfrider San Diego published a policy statement on blufftop track relocation in Del Mar in August 2020. Since then, SANDAG leadership committed to permanently relocate this stretch of LOSSAN railroad by 2035 in their Board-approved Regional Transportation Plan. We celebrate SANDAG’s commitment. Although it could realistically take up to 30 years until the tracks are permanently relocated, the completed project will constitute a significant managed retreat of critical public infrastructure from the coast. We all look forward to the day when almost 2 miles of bluffs are returned to the public, preserving the iconic beaches below for the next generations.
However, there will be significant challenges over the next 15-30 years to ensure the project is successful. Challenges include funding uncertainties for a project with an estimated cost of $3 billion, not to mention the potential regulatory hurdles of finding an alternative location. Furthermore, partial bluff failures in 2019 and 2021 underscore the need to stabilize the train tracks for the sake of public safety until they can be moved. Bluff stabilization comes with negative tradeoffs for the beach below, including beach-killing seawalls and the potential for temporary loss of public access. Surfrider intends to monitor the process until track realignment is complete. During this interim period, our priorities are to minimize the negative effects of the bluff stabilization work while pushing for maximum mitigation in the form of beach access projects along the affected stretch of coast.