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A busy traffic link between L.A. and Orange counties is closed for at least a year

A busy traffic link between L.A. and Orange counties is closed for at least a year
A section of Hacienda Road in La Habra Heights between Skyline Drive and Canada Sombre Road has been closed after the pavement sank several inches. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A heavily trafficked road that links the San Gabriel Valley and Orange County is expected to be closed for at least a year following a season of torrential rain that caused a portion of the winding thoroughfare to sink.

La Habra Heights officials closed Hacienda Road from Canada Sombre Road to West Skyline Drive this month after they discovered a section in the southbound lane was sinking. The road has descended about 8½ inches due to an ongoing landslide that was probably triggered by heavy rain, according to a report from AESCO, a Huntington Beach-based geotechnical engineering firm.

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“The potential for worsening of the depression will likely continue through the rainy season and beyond,” the engineers wrote.

The closure is causing headaches for commuters who use the road as a more-direct alternative to freeways to access parts of north Orange County. However, with rain continuing this week, officials determined the road is not safe for motorists.

Scattered showers dampened portions of Los Angeles and Orange counties on Wednesday and rain is expected to continue into Thursday morning. Light scattered showers will probably return late Friday and Saturday, but are expected to clear by Sunday, according to forecasters.

The La Habra Heights City Council on Thursday will consider allocating funds to launch a comprehensive geotechnical analysis of Hacienda Road. Officials say the analysis must be completed before repairs can begin.

The depression in the road, which serves about 30,000 cars daily, was first discovered in mid-February. Officials filled the area with asphalt, but the road continued to settle. Officials decided to close it amid concerns that the street might give way.

Mayor Brian Bergman said the road’s age, along with intense rains and heavy traffic all probably contributed to the damage. He estimates the thoroughfare is more than 100 years old.

“You’ve taken an old road that was put into service for low volumes of traffic and now it’s more of a regional road,” he said. “It goes through our city, but it services the region much more than the residents.”

This isn’t the first time a stretch of the road has failed. The city spent several million dollars to repair another section about 10 years ago, Bergman said.

It is not clear how much repairs will cost. However, the city — a community of about 5,400 with an annual budget of less than $4 million — plans to seek help from the county, state and federal governments, Bergman said.

“It would more than wipe us out,” he said. “We just don’t have the money to do this type of repair work.”

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