Topanga Canyon Boulevard to reopen Sunday, 3 months ahead of schedule, Newsom and Caltrans say

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Monday, June 3, 2024
Topanga Canyon Boulevard to reopen Sunday, months ahead of schedule
A critical stretch of Topanga Canyon Boulevard that has been closed since early March due to storm-triggered mud and debris flows will reopen on Sunday, about 90 days ahead of schedule.

TOPANGA, Calif. (CNS) -- A critical stretch of Topanga Canyon Boulevard that has been closed since early March due to storm-triggered mud and debris flows will reopen on Sunday, about 90 days ahead of schedule.

Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement Friday with a short video posted on social media.

"Some good news to report," Newsom said. "Topanga Canyon Boulevard will be open this Sunday, that's June 2. It's about three months ahead of schedule. I just want to thank the men and women of Caltrans for working overtime to get this done."

Crews have been working constantly to remove materials and repair the damage to quickly reopen both lanes Topanga Canyon Boulevard, which will have one-lane traffic control on off-peak hours using flaggers as emergency repairs continue, according to a statement from Newsom's office.

"I cannot overstate just how important it has been for the state and everyone involved to see Topanga Canyon Boulevard open as quickly and as safely as possible. Thanks to the diligent efforts by the state along with crews assisting on the ground and the support of locals, this repair work has exceeded all our expectations by opening months ahead of initial estimates," Newsom added.

On March 9, a landslide engulfed both lanes of state Route 27, cutting off access for canyon residents and travelers going to Pacific Coast Highway-state Route 1.

"The slide that closed Topanga Canyon Boulevard on March 9 of this year has caused significant disruption for residents and visitors alike. The closure created considerable hardships for the residents of Topanga, caused commutes to be extended for sometimes hours and posed significant public safety threats in the event Topanga residents needed to evacuate," the statement said.

Approximately 15,000 cubic yards of material has been removed and repurposed for Ventura County farmers, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and an art installation in downtown Los Angeles near the State Historic Park.

Caltrans revised its original estimate of 50,000 to 90,000 cubic yards of material needing to be removed once a geotechnical report determined that the slide was shallower than first thought. Crews did not encounter any anomalies in the soil during removal, which benefited the expedited opening, according to the statement.

"The incredible work of Caltrans geotechnical and construction engineers and geologists and the contractor has returned a vital connection for this community," Caltrans Director Tony Tavares said.

To remove materials, crews built an access road adjacent to the slide to push down materials from the top using a Spider Excavator and loading the materials into Super-10 trucks with a long-reach excavator. From there, the trucks hauled the dirt and rocks to the farms, county storage locations and the art installation, according to the statement.

"I thank Governor Newsom, Senator Ben Allen, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath and our local partners for their unwavering support, the residents and businesses for their patience and the crews for reopening the roadway as quickly and as safely as possible," Tavares said.

The closure, which Caltrans originally estimated to last until September, has disrupted the lives of individuals living in the canyon, visitors to Topanga and beachgoers

The boulevard -- a critical link between the western San Fernando Valley and the coast -- has been closed between Pacific Coast Highway and Grand View Drive since early March. The dramatic storms that hit the area led to rock and debris slides in many mountain areas, with the Topanga slide particularly damaging.

In late April, a group of local and state officials toured the area, vowing to do what they can to expedite the reopening of the roadway. Early predictions, however, were that the road might remain blocked until late summer.

Now that Caltrans has stabilized the slope and removed material, geotechnical engineers and geologists will monitor the site for any movement. Officials recommended a cable-mesh drapery system to prevent any sloughing of remaining loose materials and planting native seeds to further stabilize the slope.

"I want to commend all those responsible for the quick reopening of this critical route. Caltrans District 7 and the California State Transportation Agency, along with their contractors, have once again come through in record time and have announced that the highway will be reopened on Sunday! Thank you to all involved and in particular, thank you to the residents of Topanga who have experienced this disruption firsthand over these past months," Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin said.

On May 3, Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency to help secure federal funding to repair damage to roads battered during March storms, including state Route 27-Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

"The state and county have coordinated in unprecedented ways to clear the landslide," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath. "Governor Newsom has delivered the resources necessary for 24/7 operations that have led to this early partial reopening. As summer kicks off, this is welcome news, and we know the work will continue at the same speed for a full reopening."