“ Significant risk ”: the authorities call for “ greater caution ”, under the cliffs of Del Mar
Authorities Friday. On March 5, urged bathers to exercise “the utmost caution” in Del Mar and parts of Torrey Pines State Beach, and to avoid cliff tops altogether, after finding cracks in the cliffs that ” pose a significant risk ”.
A bluff collapse on Sunday morning, February 28, just south of Fourth Street, near the border between Del Mar and Torrey Pines State Beach, occurred within 35 feet of part of the track, prompting repairs emergency, according to the North County Transit District.
“Geotechnical experts have determined that the rail service can be operated safely at reduced speed,” officials from the transit district and the San Diego Association of Governments said in a statement Friday (March 5). “However, another bluff failure is possible due to cracks seen atop the cliffs and pose a significant risk to beachgoers.
Officials said the public should not approach within 50 feet of the Del Mar Cliffs or the beach below, and they said law enforcement would be present along the cliff tops near the Sunday February 28 collapse site “to educate the public about the inherent risks.”
“Getting caught in a bluff meltdown can cause serious injury or death,” the joint statement from the NCTD, SANDAG and the City of Del Mar said.
A drone video shot after the collapse on Sunday, February 28 showed a large section of the cliff cut from the level of the railroad tracks to the beach, leaving a pile of sandstone and rubble on the high tide line.
Sheriff’s deputies cordoned off the beach near the collapse and rescue dogs were brought in to search for anyone buried in the rubble. Nothing was found, and no one was injured or missing.
SANDAG has worked with the NCTD and other agencies for decades to stabilize the 1.7 miles of track on the Cliffs of Del Mar, where the cliffs are increasingly threatened by coastal erosion.
Studies show that the cliffs are disappearing at an average rate of six inches per year. However, episodic events are the greatest threat, in which large sections break off, sometimes in perfect weather without warning. Three women from a family sitting at Grandview Beach in Encinitas were killed in a collapse in August 2019.
Stormwater runoff during heavy Thanksgiving week rains in 2019 caused an outage that threatened tracks and delayed trains until repairs could be completed a month later in a section just north of the collapse of Sunday February 28.
– Alex Riggins is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune
– Writer Phil Diehl contributed to this story.