On October 29, 1933, four years after the 1929 stock market crash, the Ridge Route Alternate was opened. This new roadway was intended originally to be an alternate to the Ridge Route, a roadway for those wanting to go faster. Instead, all traffic diverted onto the new roadway. Due to this and the roadway itself being bypassed, the state no longer wanted to maintain the Ridge Route. On August 3, 1934, the California Highway Commission formally relinquished the whole of the Ridge Route, from State 138 to Castaic, to the County of Los Angeles. The document was finally recorded on October 2, 1934 as OR 12996-210.
This relinquishment would be in doubt, however, many years later when there was dispute between the County and the Forest Service as to who would pay for maintenance of the roadway. The County did little to maintain the road, the Forest Service did about as much. The discovery of this document at the Caltrans District 7 office temporarily settled the dispute, or so it would have seemed. The County, in their effort to offload the roadway to the Forest Service, chose the quickest, albeit the most negligent and improper, method to do so. Instead of doing what the State did in 1934, they vacated the roadway in 2005, akin to abandoning it.
This is what we fight. Any and all help is gladly appreciated.
1934 Ridge Route Relinquishment
After a trip on the Ridge Route a few years ago, I noticed a section was repaved. The section repaved was the southernmost section of the “National Register” section, about 3/4 mile north of Templin Highway. This paving covered a few sections of the highway which showed the difference between the 1919 paving and the mid 1920’s realignments. I wondered why it was done, but at the time, didn’t know who did it or why.
Fast forwarding to present, however, the paving of the roadway seems to mean a bit more. Since the Ridge Route, including the section that was repaved, was vacated by the County of Los Angeles as a Public Highway in 2005, this paving is of interest. The paving was done in 2010 by the Angeles National Forest using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds (ARRA). It was done under contract with William Kanayan Construction. Nothing against this company, just that it was the one that did the work.
Now, with that in mind, here is where it gets interesting. With the Ridge Route officially vacated by the County, it begs the question – Who Owns The Ridge Route? Local land owners seem to claim it is theirs. However, as PUBLIC monies went to repaving a portion, specifically by the Angeles National Forest, it would seem that the PUBLIC, as in the Federal Government, owns the road. Rarely, if ever, does a public agency pave a roadway that is privately owned. Taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be going to such things, as most would probably agree. This is what we, the Ridge Route Preservation Organization, are fighting for. We want the roadway under PUBLIC hands and under public maintenance. The roadway has been public since 1915, possibly since the late 1800’s. The repaving of a portion of the roadway by a public agency, at least to us, shows the admission of ownership of the roadway by the Forest Service. This admission helps the road and hurts the local landowners that claim the roadway as theirs.
All of what we do, and what those we deal with do, is under the public domain. We need your help in this venture. Please donate and/or join our organization.
The main issue lately with the Ridge Route is simple on the surface but is decidedly anything but. In 2005, the County of Los Angeles vacated, albeit illegally, the portion of the Ridge Route within the Angeles National Forest. Basically, the section between Sandberg and Warm Springs Road (just north of Templin Highway). This vacation created problems with the roadway easements, which has clouded the title of the roadway. This vacation order is the main issue at hand and is the single document which puts the future of the roadway as a public highway and a maintained roadway in jeopardy. What should have been done was to “quit claim” the roadway to the Forest Service, which would have transferred the easements and right of way properly. A vacation is akin to abandoning the road, which is not what we want at all. We strongly urge you to help us right this wrong and get the roadway back to where it needs to be.
2005 County Vacation Order