The Angeles Crest Highway Opens
The access highway to the Angeles National Forest and all of its treasures opens.
The Angeles Crest Highway (SR-2) opened with much anticipation Monday, November 30 after its closure in late August 2009, due to the Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest (ANF)
“I am glad that it is open,” said Chilao Maintenance Supervisor Don Niles. “It’s good for the public, the road looks great, and the contractors did a great job.”
Niles along with his road crew members, Dale Haun, Kevin Leach, and Robert Torres, live at the strategically placed Chilao Maintenance Yard. On a daily basis, they patrol SR-2, clearing the roadway of rocks, debris, and occasionally helping with emergency operations.
Contractors worked around the clock to repair thousands of feet of guardrail, hundreds of road signs, debris/catch basins, culverts, pavement, and striping after the Station Fire was declared controlled.
“The combined efforts of Baltazar Construction, Alcorn Fence Company, and Caltrans Maintenance helped to expedite the reopening of Angeles Crest Highway,” said North Region Maintenance Manager Wallie Jordan. “The personnel assigned to the restoration efforts worked diligently, day and night, to restore the highway for safe travel. Restoration, erosion control, and containment strategies are still ongoing.”
The reopening of SR-2 opens the door to commuters, motorcyclists, bicyclists, hikers, vacationers, and outdoor enthusiasts who have been anxiously waiting to use the highway.
Commuters seeking a “shortcut” from Palmdale and Lancaster to Los Angeles drive south on the Angeles Forest Highway (a county road) to access SR-2.
Motorcyclists flock to SR-2 much like children to a rollercoaster. To the motorcyclists, SR-2 is much like a free open-air attraction, in which they can zigzag around tight curves and switchbacks without encountering heavy traffic (the CHP has motorcycle patrols on the highway too), almost anytime of the year.
Bicyclists are drawn to the rather steep--and possibly intimidating to some--highway as well. On many occasions, one will see several bicyclists pumping their way up the mountain road. The 40-mile long road is not in any way a beginner’s course.
Those seeking a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life head to the Angeles National Forest to hike, ski at one of the resorts, or get some rest and relaxation at one of the ranch inns.
Even Hollywood has used SR-2 as a backdrop for movies such as Donnie Darko and The Love Bug (you know, the lovable Volkswagen Bug).
The Station Fire left many of the slopes along SR-2 are clear of vegetation creating several erosion problems. Caltrans, US Forest Service, US Geological Survey, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, and several other agencies have a colossal challenge to protect the highway and other roads in the ANF from mudslides, rockslides, and other debris flows. The fire damage from the fire has left the majority the ANF closed indefinitely.
Heavy winter rains may present a daunting task in keeping the highway open. As seen by the maintenance crews response to clear debris from the highway during heavy rains in early December, Caltrans will use its resources to keep the road open. It is safe to say that many are hoping for a dry winter.