Historic Ridge Route Remains Closed
Due to storm damage and disagreements over who is responsible for the repairs, portions of the Ridge Route may not reopen for a year.
By Tammy Marashlian
For The Signal
Friday, June 24, 2005
he Ridge Route, one of the state's oldest highways and the original link between the Santa Clarita Valley and Central Valley and Bakersfield, remains closed this summer, the victim of last winter's floods and an ownership squabble.
A truck travels southbound on Ridge Route Road in Castaic on Thursday morning. Traffic along the northbound Interstate 5 can be seen in the distance.
(Bryan Kneiding/The Signal)
The road, built in 1915, is one of the few highways to make the National Register of Historic Places. The designation was won through lobbying by Harrison Scott, a Torrance resident who fell in love with the winding mountain road when he took a wrong turn years ago.
In 2001, Scott founded the Ridge Route Preservation Organization in a bid to save what's left of the early highway.
"Today's Ridge Route is one of the most expensive highways to take care of in the nation due to the water in the mountains," he said.
The 20-foot-wide road, eked out in the dawning years of the 20th century by workers with horse-drawn scrapers, was severely damaged in last winter's storms.
A 75-foot section of the road slipped 15 feet into the canyon, riding downward on slippery, rain-saturated clay, Scott said.
The slide broke a 26-inch natural gas pipeline. An Edison Co. tower also was lost when the hillside gave way.
Causing some delays in repairs has been a difference of opinion between the U.S. Forest Service and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works over which agency owns the road and is responsible for its repair.
But there's hope, Scott said.
"They are working together, and positive progress is being made, and we expect an outcome in the next couple of months," he said.
Meantime, his Ridge Route Preservation Organization is trying to raise money to help repair the road, which was replaced twice: in 1933, when Highway 99 went through, and in 1970, when Interstate 5 was built.
The portion of Ridge Route north of National Crest Inn in Castaic is expected to remain closed to the public for another year, Scott said.
But some people have not been getting that message.
Scott said people are continuing to try to access the road. He encourages people to stay off it until road and utility repairs can be finished.
"Road Closed" signs have been taken down, probably by the public, he added.
"There is a tremendous interest in the road because we used to give free tours for the public, and recently Huell Howser made a video about Ridge Route," Scott said.
But trying to drive it right now could be dangerous.
The Ridge Route Preservation Organization's Web site can be accessed at www.ridgeroute.com.
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