Piece of Mind: The Crest will open Monday. Or won't.

Speculation is high that Angeles Crest Highway, closed at the La Cañada border since sustaining severe damage from heavy rains last January, will reopen next week. But we have been unable to get Caltrans to tell us that on the record, at least as of our press deadline this week.

As we've previously reported, a Caltrans spokesman told us a couple of weeks ago that the highway might reopen this month. Judging by the interest in that story by visitors to our website, there are a lot of people anxious to access the forest via its most direct route, which runs straight through the heart of our town.

We'd really like to have the inside scoop detailing exactly when this major thoroughfare is going to be reopening after such a long closure, but we understand that the state transportation agency has to be fair and notify all the press at the same time.

Some people might (for good reason) think this a little unorthodox, but I decided to go about looking into the matter via the Internet. Be forewarned that this is all hearsay: I followed a Google Alert to a Facebook link to a comment from a stranger (to me) who wrote he'd heard through the grapevine that workers have been alerted to reopen the gates at, or around, 12 a.m. Monday.

Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. With storms expected this weekend, it could be that officials will want to see how the newly-stabilized roadway holds up before welcoming drivers.

Whatever the case, I have mixed emotions about the whole thing. Since the highway was shut down I've noticed:

•There have been no runaway-vehicle accidents on ACH at Foothill.

•Sirens blaring from rescue vehicles traveling up the highway from La Cañada to respond to traffic accidents in the forest have been blissfully missing from the Sunday afternoon neighborhood sound mix.

•It's easier to turn onto Angeles Crest Highway from any of its side streets during morning and evening rush hours because "The Palmdale 500" — commuters coming into the basin from the other side of the forest — has been rerouted.

•The colorful Ducatis and their riders have very nearly vanished from the scene. I do miss seeing them.

•Not so many people have been in town on weekends, buying gas and dining at our restaurants. I imagine some of the businesses they frequented in the past are ready to welcome them back with open arms. And thriving businesses in our commercial district benefit all of us through increased sales-tax revenue.

There's always the possibility Caltrans will put out a notice about the reopening as soon as this paper hits your driveway Thursday, too late for us to get into print, but not too late for us to put online. I invite you to check us out frequently at http://www.lacanadaonline.com; we'll let you know when you can rev those engines.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. E-mail her at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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