Angeles Hwy reopens after Station Fire repairs

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. Most of the rocks are gone from the pavement, thousands of feet of burned guard rail have been replaced and the asphalt surface has been oiled and restriped. Monday, Angeles Crest Highway was reopened for the first time since the Station Fire erupted three months ago.

Matt Maxon says he's a regular in the forest. An avid hiker and adventurer, he says he knows every canyon is completely burnt out, but he says it will come back.

"My friends and I, we've explored these mountains, all these canyons, these ridges and we go places no one ever goes, and it's just another phase in the life of these mountains," said Maxon.

Caltrans spent $12 million to clear debris and get the roadway ready for vehicles. Some of the finishing work is still going on, but commuters and mountain residents are happy to have their highway back, even though Caltrans says it might have to be closed again on the first sight of heavy rain.

"We want to make sure that the roads are safe for people to use, so we'll work for CHP to shut the road down if necessary. We're well aware of the issues that can come from any bad weather," said Patrick Chandler of Caltrans.

Motorists weren't the only ones climbing into the mountain Monday. Motorcyclists and bicyclists like to ride Angeles National Crest too, and both were out in force.

"As a professional coach, I'm still a little resistant to bring groups of riders up here and stuff because of the rocks falling down," said David Brinton, a former Olympic cyclist. "There's quite a bit more debris out here right now and that does create a danger for us, a big danger with the rocks and the slides and stuff. So we still have to be very careful and ride a lot slower and be cautious. I'm happy to have it open."

Like Brinton, many are happy to have the highway open, but because of the continuing construction, be advised that at certain times during the day, escorts are convoying cars past the construction site. So your trip over the mountains will be a little slower than before the fire.

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