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A ‘temporary fix’ is on for eroded forest road

A ‘temporary fix’ is on for eroded forest road
The maintenance crew discuss what to do about a section of the Mt. Lukens fire road hanging in space. (Reg Green)

The Valley Sun’s campaign to prevent the forest road that goes from the fire station on Angeles Crest Highway to the cluster of service antennae on the top of Mt. Lukens from becoming impassable is beginning to have an effect.

Soon after 7 o’clock on Monday morning, a scorching day, an earthmover and crew began what they called a two-day “temporary fix” of the worst sections. The spot causing the most anxiety for the vehicles maintaining the towers, which facilitate communication for emergency services, hospitals, television and cellphones throughout Southern California, was tackled first. At this point, alongside a sheer drop of 20 feet or more, a part of the roadbed has been hollowed out by erosion and could give way at any time.

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The temporary solution here is to widen the road by cutting into the deep hillside away from the drop to give vehicles some extra room away from the edge. The part hanging in space is untouched.

Elsewhere the deepest ruts have been filled in. The worst, more than 3 feet deep and more than 3 feet wide, were deep enough to stop the heaviest vehicles getting through. Now, to everyone’s relief, they are covered with loose gravel and soil.

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Repair has been stalled for months because of a dispute over who should pay: the government, who owns the Angeles National Forest and the road, or the companies who own the antennae, whose vehicles are pounding it in ways its builders never foresaw.

The burning question now is: How long is “temporary”? Two years ago, the U.S. Forest Service made an energetic effort to fill in some much smaller ruts, pouring in earth and gravel and pounding it down. A few months later the rains had washed almost all of it away, leaving only the rocks and tree stumps that had been shoved in there to hold the soil together.

Now the task of controlling the damage is far more difficult because heavy vehicles are a routine feature on what, before the antennae were erected, was a solitary byway used only by hikers, bikers and an occasional forest service vehicle.

By Tuesday, the very next day, heavy tires had already made their mark on the new surface.

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