Angeles Crest Highway won't reopen for at least 3 months
More than 160,000 acres have been scorched in the Angeles National Forest Station fire -- the worst wildfire in L.A. history. As for the road that runs through it, that's also been significantly damaged and will take about $12 million to fix. Four miles' worth of guard rails along Angeles Crest Highway will need to be replaced, since the wooden posts to which the metal beams were attached have burned and the beams are now lying on the ground. Almost all of the hundreds of road signs have been burned. And many of the thermoplastic markings dotting the pavement have also melted, according to the California Department of Transportation, which maintains the road.
Two teams of 70 people are alternating 12-hour shifts to fix the 33 miles of Angeles Crest Highway that have been closed due to the fire -- from 2.2 miles north of La Canada-Flintridge to just west of Wrightwood. According to CalTrans spokeswoman Kelly Markham, the first priority for repairs is the bottom, or southernmost, nine miles of Angeles Crest leading up to the Palmdale turnoff. She gives a timeline of "up to five weeks" for that repair, with the rest of the damage being fixed in an additional two months. According to Markham, "Basically, it's the entire road that needs to be fixed."
Angeles Crest Highway only re-opened all the way through from the 210 Freeway to Wrightwood in May; nine miles of the road were closed for four years, due to a winter storm that washed much of it away. Restoring that stretch of road cost $22 million.
"Now we're going to have to spend 50% of the money we spent three years ago to get it back up and running," Markham said. "But what can you do? That's Mother Nature."
-- Susan Carpenter
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