January 2022 Open Meeting

We are trying out something new this year. As stated in our last newsletter, we are starting to hold more regular meetings, albeit online via Zoom, to help keep everyone updated on the roadway, give presentations on various aspects of the history of the road or special features, and give time to share stories about the roadway.

For our January meeting, Michael Ballard will be sharing photos from the last two trips over the roadway showing the current state of the Ridge Route and giving an update on the status of upcoming events. Come join us on Thursday, January 20 at 6 pm!

To register, please use the link below:

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwtde-pqTwiH9TT3Z5xjxm-nQPIO_qrZhRl

2021 In Review

2021 has been a good year for the Ridge Route and the RRPO. We have accomplished a fair amount this year starting with two CUTRR events resulting in a clearer roadway and a better appreciation for the work we have before us. We intend to have more events in 2022 and, using the knowledge gained from the last two events, we will accomplish even more using better tools. We have also worked to survey the roadway about once a month since we gained access to the closed section. These trips not only offer the opportunity to experience the roadway and take photos, but to review what we need to do to help preserve it. Each time we go up there, we seem to find something new. Sections of original striping, wooden railing, and even some concrete curbing have been found that was thought to have been lost. Each trip is an adventure. It is something we look forward to many more being able to enjoy in the future.

The RRPO continues to have a good working relationship with the USFS, something I intend to use to help the roadway as much as possible. I know things have seemed slow and unchanging, but that isn’t the case. We are currently working with the USFS to develop a plan to reopen the roadway, keep it maintained, and restore the monuments along the roadway. It is frustrating at times but we are persistent and we will prevail. It will be reopened, it will just take time.

Reopening the roadway isn’t as easy as just leaving the gates open. The road surfacing is now over 100 years old and we want to do what we can to ensure it lasts for a long time to come. Reopening the roadway now would not be beneficial to that goal. There are steps that must be taken prior to that point. The concrete has sections where the reinforcing bar is exposed. Asphalt sections are failing. Portions of the roadway are in danger of being washed out. We need to stabilize these sections first before we would feel comfortable in having the roadway open. We are the Ridge Route Preservation Organization and without the Preservation, we’d have no Ridge Route left to protect. Our intention is still to get the roadway reopened as soon as possible, but with some restrictions to help keep the roadway safe. The main restrictions would include having the roadway open only during the dry season to reduce damage to the pavement during the winter months and ensuring overweight vehicles are not allowed on the roadway through the use of additional signage as well as working with mapping companies to reduce the problem. A study is already underway by the County of Los Angeles to potentially restrict trucks along their section of the roadway, initiated by us. Once the roadway is scheduled to reopen, we intend to work on the monuments that have long since faded away along the roadway.

All these things take time, money, and effort. We wish to thank all those that have donated their time, their money, and effort to the Ridge Route and the Ridge Route Preservation Organization. We couldn’t have accomplished what we have so far without your support. We will continue to need that support even after the roadway is open again. Special thanks goes out to Harrison Scott without whom we wouldn’t even be this far. We would also like to thank Ray Kidd with the Angeles National Forest for helping us and guiding us as USFS volunteers.

If you’d like to help with the reopening plan or any other part of the Ridge Route efforts, let us know!

November – December 2021 Newsletter

Ridge Route Update

With winter coming, we will be shutting down our CUTRR projects until March or April 2022, depending on how winter goes. Planning gets to be a bit more difficult when dodging rain and snow storms. Those same storms also bring additional hazards to the historic roadway. To ensure both yourself and the roadway stay as safe as possible, please do not travel the roadway during or just after a heavy rain or snow storm. Mud, rocks, and other debris may be present on the roadway blocking the roadway. The concrete paving is also most vulnerable during this period and can be easier to break with a wet base. We can all do our part to help keep the roadway safe.

Overall, the roadway is in decent shape with some major exceptions. Those exceptions are a part of our CUTRR goals and what we intend to get the USFS to repair as needed. The gates at both ends remain closed and as always, if you see them open DO NOT expect them to remain open for the duration of your visit. USFS, utility companies, and other groups with access may close the gates behind them.

We are working with the USFS to “upgrade” our relationship with them as well as get approvals to use heavier equipment, such as skid-steers and scrapers. Using them will allow us to clear the roadway a lot easier and with greater speed while still ensuring the historic roadway remains intact. Our last two events have mostly used hand tools, which we still will use for smaller projects and to clear brush as needed. I do wish to thank ALL that have contributed to the success of these events, in any way they have contributed. Some have done so financially, others brought tools, many others have been helping swing picks and clear debris. We couldn’t, nor could we continue, to do this without all your efforts. Thank you Ridge Route volunteers!

October 23, 2021 CUTRR Event Report

CUTRR crew hard at work

We had another successful CUTRR event on the 23rd. We set the date later in October with the hopes the weather would be cooler and the fire danger would have subsided. We got that and more. It rained a bit the night before, but not enough to cancel or cause a problem. It rained / drizzled yet more when we all met in Gorman. However, when we got to the work site, the weather was near perfect.

The work was hampered a fair amount due to the lack of heavier equipment. Should we do this again without skid-steer/bobcat-type equipment, we intend to use powered tools, such as jackhammers and the like to break up and remove the debris from the roadway. We hadn’t really used such equipment in the past and I hadn’t considered it before as a result.

Despite using just hand tools, we made really good progress, thanks to our volunteers. The drain was cleared, channels were dug to help direct the water better, and a decent amount of material was removed to help prevent this from getting worse. Repairs to the drainage culvert will be necessary in the near future, however, as it is starting to rust and develop holes.

Finished for the day.

If you’d like to help plan the next CUTRR event, let us know! We can use the help.

Website Subscription

Make sure to subscribe to our site to get updates on upcoming CUTRR events and Ridge Route news.

Reporting Problems on the Ridge Route

With all the recent fire activity as well as other events such as January 26 when big rigs tried to travel the Ridge Route, we thought it was a good idea to have a place to report things. If you see something wrong on the Ridge Route, be it a developing washout, large vehicles traversing the roadway, or things out-of-the-ordinary, we have have set up a web page to help you report things on the road. We will pass the information along to the appropriate agencies as needed.

To Report Problems or other issues on the Ridge Route, please use the website below. The web page is also located under our “Current Roadway Conditions” page in the menu.

Featured Photo

Ridge Route in Castaic with Castaic Dam in the right background. Courtesy – Michael F Ballard

This month’s featured photo shows a section of the Ridge Route which seems insignificant, but contains a great deal of history. It was taken on Castaic Lake Drive just north of the Castaic Lagoon entrance. This location marks the end of the 1915-1917 Saugus to Castaic paving, the 1922 widening of the 1917 paving (the small strip of concrete at the edge of the roadway), the beginning of the “true” Ridge Route 20′ wide paving, the first curve on the Ridge Route, and the former junction with Elizabeth Lake Canyon Road (now Lake Hughes Road). Come check out this unique piece of Ridge Route history next time you visit Castaic or Castaic Lake.

#RouteFire Update – 9/13/2021

Things have calmed down quite a bit on the Ridge Route, thanks to the efforts of the fire crews working the #RouteFire. The old Ridge Route was unharmed and was well away from the fire. Per USFS, it appears the reports of trucks once again traveling the Ridge Route were likely people spotting fire crews taking the roadway. They did not get any reports of heavy traffic over the roadway either during the I-5 closure. This is good news. While we do not know if the gates were open before the fire, it looks like efforts by the USFS, County of Los Angeles, and Caltrans to block the roadway through other means during the forest closure were fruitful.

I do wish to reiterate that the Ridge Route, regardless of closure, is not an alternative to I-5. Heavy vehicles should not be traversing the roadway at any time as they can and do damage the historic roadway.

If you see vehicles that should not be on the roadway, such as big rigs and similar commercial traffic, please let us know and we will inform the proper authorities. Make sure to give us where you saw them, what direction, and any description of the vehicle so we can give the best information possible.

Thank you all again for your support f0r the roadway and our organization. We look forward to seeing many of you out there on October 23, 2021 for our next CUTRR event, contingent on the forest closure or other conditions. Should be a lot of fun!

October CUTRR Event

Potholes near Granite Gate. Courtesy – Michael F Ballard

Our event on August 28 was a great success! Let’s keep that going. Our next event will be on Saturday, October 23, 2021, weather and conditions permitting as always. This event will concentrate on the northern end of the roadway between Granite Gate and the Liebre Maintenance Station site. This section of roadway has numerous potholes, rocks, and other debris covering the roadway which need to be cleared. We are negotiating with the USFS to get permission to use asphalt patch material for the potholes and potentially larger equipment such as a skip-loader to remove some of the debris. Lacking those, we can still make great progress on the roadway and reduce the damage to the historic roadway. Please bring shovels, picks, branch cutters / clippers, and any other tools to help clear dirt from the roadway and brush from the drains. We will need a truck or two to transport material to another site for disposal.

Circled area marks the area where we will be working.

If you would like to join us, please RSVP as soon as possible. Let us know what sort of equipment you will bring and if you are able to assist with transporting the materials to a disposal site further south on the roadway. Try to carpool, if possible, so that we can reduce the number of vehicles on the roadway.

We will meet at the parking lot of the Carl’s Jr in Gorman (49669 Gorman Post Rd, Gorman, CA 93243) near Exit 202 off I-5 at 8 am. We will depart by 8:30 am and head to the work site.

If you have any questions or concerns about the event, please let us know. We look forward to seeing you all there! Please use the form below to sign up for the event.

For Amateur Radio: We will be on 146.580 (Simplex) as well for communications.

If you haven’t already, please use the box below to subscribe to our website. You will receive any updates we post to our site directly to your e-mail.

%d bloggers like this: