Topanga Canyon Blvd. reopens ahead of schedule after major mudslide cleanup

Sophie Flay Image
Monday, June 3, 2024
Topanga Canyon Blvd. reopens ahead of schedule after mudslide cleanup
Original estimates said the stretch of Topanga Canyon from Grand View to PCH would not reopen until September.

TOPANGA, Calif. (KABC) -- Topanga Canyon Boulevard reopened on Sunday, months after mudslides forced the closure of a large section connecting Malibu to the San Fernando Valley.

The reopening is coming some 90 days earlier than initial estimates, in part because crews discovered the mud wasn't as deep as first feared and because removal crews didn't run into any major hitches.

The stretch of road, roughly from Grand View Drive to Pacific Coast Highway, was closed in March after back-to-back storms led to mud, rocks and a large boulder sliding onto the roadway. The Caltrans closure shut off a major connector route and isolated businesses and homes in the area.

In early May, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to help obtain federal funds to assist repairs to local roads damaged in the storms. Last week he announced Topanga would be reopening 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.

That was welcome news to businesses in the area.

"It's hallelujah for not only our theater that serves so many people seeing plays or coming to our camps or educational programs, but all the businesses in Topanga," said Ellen Geer, producing artistic director of the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. "And the most important thing is that now with the road open, we're safe, because we didn't have enough exits if there's a fire."

During the cleanup, more than 15,000 cubic yards of dirt and mud were removed and repurposed, sent to Ventura County farmers, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and an art installation in downtown Los Angeles.

Caltrans had originally estimated that 50,000 to 90,000 cubic yards would have to be reopened and the route wouldn't reopen until September. When conditions were safe enough to perform more detailed studies, officials found less mud than originally estimated, leading to the shorter timeline.

Traffic on Topanga will be reduced to a single lane during non-peak hours so Caltrans crews can continue repair work.