Highway closure affects mountain businesses

HIGHLAND, Calif. Highway 330 is closed from Highland to Running Springs. Drivers heading up have to take a detour.

Last week's record storm caused severe damage along Highway 330. Caltrans says it'll be closed at least through the end of winter.

Some residents think it might be even longer.

"I say it won't be at least a year before they open that back up," said Running Springs resident Chris Cote.

"It's going to be a nightmare for a long time, they say about a year, year and a half," said Running Springs resident Bob Clooney.

There are currently only two highways up to Big Bear: Highway 38, which saw bumper-to-bumper traffic Wedensday, and Highway 18, which had bumper-to-bumper traffic Thursday.

While it's an inconvenience for skiers and snowboarders, for residents it's a nightmare.

"Tourists will still come, it's more the local people who have to go down the hill for work, so they have to go across the mountain and it takes an extra two hours of driving time," said Clooney.

That's the problem for mountain commuters. But for store owners in Running Springs, the closure of Highway 330 could devastate business.

"It affects the whole strip here, all the business won't be able to survive if that 330 doesn't open up," said business owner Steve Copely.

Copely opened Ma and Paw's Pet Supplies two years ago. He knew the economy would be a problem. He didn't expect this highway to close for two years in a row.

"All the restaurants are going to lose business, the shopping, even the rentals of the cabins, those people are affected too, so it's going to affect this whole community, and if we don't get it done there won't be a community," said Copely.

All the resorts are open and skiing conditions are excellent. Caltrans says the 330 will be closed at least until the end of the winter. Last year, the closure lasted until the middle of the May. The damage is reportedly much worse than last year's.

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