City hopes to open up highway by rush hour

Laguna Beach city officials are hoping to reopen Coast Highway in downtown Laguna Beach by the peak rush hour Wednesday, police Lt. Jason Kravetz said.

City workers are moving mud and debris off of a section of the highway between Broadway and Laguna Avenue which was inundated by mud and silt due to overnight flooding from Laguna Creek.

After reopening the highway, officials will work to reopen Forest Avenue, Broadway, Ocean Avenue and Beach Street which have been closed since early Wednesday morning due to mud and high water.

Last on the list is Laguna Canyon Road, Kravetz said. The canyon road is filled with abandoned vehicles, debris and downed trees from the storm and floodwaters.

The city’s swift-water rescue team assisted 25 people who were caught behind the rushing waters of normally placid Laguna Creek in the early hours Wednesday, Kravetz said. No one was injured. Some of the rescues were from vehicles and others were from homes along the canyon road.

A 46-year-old female pedestrian was killed when she was struck by a motorist as she crossed South Coast Highway at Thalia Street at 6:38 a.m., he said, adding that the highway was not flooded at that intersection and the incident is not believed to be storm-related. The incident is under investigation.

Additionally, Laguna Canyon Road will be opened from Forest Avenue to Big Bend only to residents and business owners. From Big Bend to the 73 Toll Road, Laguna Canyon Road will be closed.  At the earliest, it might be opened in the late morning or early afternoon tomorrow. 

No significant rain storms are expected for the remainder of the week, but city specialists have been assessing the hillsides along with several structures throughout town. 

At this time, the City is evacuating 13homes on Hidden Valley Canyon Drive for the next 24 hours, according to Kravetz.  A city geologist examined the area and noticed signs of potential instability.  This is the only area of Laguna Beach which is under evacuation orders. 

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