Caltrans Opens 10-Mile Section of Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2)
Residents, Business Owners and Road-Trip Enthusiasts Applaud!
Caltrans District 7 got a big “thumbs up” from a vast array of people – all somehow connected by a roadway -- when it re-opened a 10-mile section of Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2) on May 20, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend. A part of SR-2 had been closed since March 2005 for extensive repairs and safety improvements from Islip Saddle to Vincent Gap in the Angeles National Forest.
Overlooking a breathtaking view of the forest, still with patches of lingering snow, Doug Failing, Caltrans District 7 Director, officiated in a ribbon-cutting event on SR-2 at Vincent Gap Vista Point, approximately 12 miles west of Wrightwood. Failing was joined by Brad Mitzelfelt, Supervisor, District 1, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors; Captain Jerry Flavin, California Highway Patrol (CHP), Southern Division, and Dr. Ray Wolfe, Caltrans District 8 Director (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties).
This $10.5 million project constructed a bridge along with roadway repairs and safety improvements. Severe winter weather conditions in 2004-05 caused extensive damage at 17 sites along this route. Additional damage occurred in spring 2006, requiring construction of a bridge that is designed for rocks, debris and run-off to flow beneath it. This scenic route provides a direct connection to and from Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties especially vital to emergency responders and the work of the United States Forest Service (U.S.F.S.) staff and park rangers.
“The opening of Angeles Crest Highway benefits many including local residents, businesses, agencies and emergency responders who protect citizens and the natural habitat,” said Failing, “A safe and open roadway also benefits those who visit the area as sports enthusiasts or to simply enjoy the pristine mountains.”
Nearly 100 people attended the opening event including local residents, public safety personnel from the U.S.F.S. as well as the Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County Sheriff Departments, elected officials and eager spectators excited to get on with their road trips on bikes, motorcycles and vintage cars. A group of hikers passing by even stopped to join the casual event.
CHP Captain Flavin addressed the crowd with a message of roadway safety and reminded motorists and the general public to share the road and to observe speed limits.
Brad Mitzelfelt, San Bernardino County Supervisor, spoke of the benefits to the public and local Wrightwood residents and businesses that have lost revenue due to the road’s closure.
Other speakers included field staff from the offices of Congressmember David Dreier, District 26, represented by Mark Harmsen; Senator George Runner, District 17, and Assemblymember Steve Knight, District 36, were both represented by Rebecca Tennison; and Assemblymember Anthony Adams was represented by Tonya Wilson. Kudos were given in droves to Caltrans staff from both District 7 and District 8 who worked to bring about these improvements.
Wolfe, who has extensive knowledge of structures, told the crowd that this new 208-foot long “Bulb-T” girder pre-cast concrete bridge is the third longest structure of its type in the world, and perhaps second longest in the country. Parts of the bridge were transported in sections and reconstructed on-site abutting a 75 percent mountain slope. The road summits at a 7,903 foot altitude, making it one of the highest roadways in Southern California. Caltans structural engineers say that the use of pre-cast concrete bridge systems in California is increasing. The benefits of such systems over traditional cast-in-place construction include a reduction in traffic disruption, environmental impacts, and life cycle costs as well as improved work zone safety. (see Inside 7, December 2008 Issue for photos and details of the construction).
And finally, speaking for the community of Wrightwood, a town of about 3,800 residents, its Honorary Mayor Robin Treloar thanked Caltrans for road improvements and opening the road. She said that the closed thoroughfare and the economy had impacted local businesses and those whose livelihoods depend upon tourism. For them, an open road will help residents to regain a better quality of life.