On December 21, 2019, a small group of us took a drive over the Ridge Route. Unlike most trips since January 2005, this one wasn’t predicated upon the gate hopefully being open for us. This time, we had keys. As a part of our Volunteer Service Agreement, we were given a key so that we can access the roadway for our CUTTR projects. This trip, while also sightseeing and enjoyable, was also to survey the roadway and determine if there are any sections needing work first. We did find a few sections in need of repairs or clearing but overall the roadway was in pretty good condition.
We cleared a few rocks here and there along the roadway, mostly for clearance issues with our vehicle. The only place that required a bit more work for us to pass was at Swede’s Cut. It wasn’t unexpected as most trips along the Ridge Route involve clearing rocks there.
Overall, the trip was a success. We found the roadway to be traversable and in decent shape, under the circumstances it is in. Work is necessary at multiple locations and will be monitored regularly. Our first CUTTR event will be in late Spring of 2020 and we look forward to having you all join us.
Finally, really good news. Last month was just “good news”. Now we’re on to really good news. Our Volunteer Service Agreement with the Angeles National Forest was finalized on December 11 and is now in effect. We will be getting a key to the gates within the next week.
Assuming weather and roadway conditions cooperate, I plan to make my first visit on the road, past the gates, on December 21st. The plan is to come from Sandberg and head to Castaic. It will be a lot of fun and an adventure. Yes, plenty of photos will be taken and posted. I haven’t fully traversed the road since about 2009 or 2010 at the latest.
With this agreement finally in place, we can begin to move forward with our portion of the physical preservation of the roadway. We are looking toward late Spring 2020, likely in early May, for our first volunteer event. Over the next few months, we will be making regular visits to the Ridge Route to assess what section we will work on first. I figure, as the road has been mostly inaccessible for so long, that a location within the closure would be best. As it gets closer, we will finalize a date for the first event on the road. All the information regarding these will be posted here as well as on RidgeRoute.com and SoCalRegion.com. Subscribe to this site, available on the right, to keep up to date with events and information on the Ridge Route.
Beyond getting the agreement and key, the roadway is still closed to motor vehicles between the gates. We are still working with the Angeles National Forest to open the road and get it properly maintained. Our maintenance events are meant to be supplementary, not primary. Our work will at least help keep the roadway in place as much as possible for the time being.
Well, its August 2019. The concrete on the Ridge Route is at or over its 100 year anniversary. For its age and all its gone through, it is still in pretty good shape in many places. Others, not so much. Those, at least south of Reservoir Summit, have been mostly corrected. I haven’t had an opportunity to traverse the roadway from there to the Tumble Inn, but reports from others and a review of aerial and satellite photography seems to give good news on that front.
We are still working with the Angeles National Forest to solve any right-of-way issues and to work toward getting the road opened. One of those items is via volunteer work. When we reach that point and start to plan work parties on the road, we will need your help and support. More information on that work, as well as how to join us, will be posted here when the time comes.
In April, we received the information we had requested from the Forest Service regarding the 2010 paving at the southern end of the roadway. What we got was quite helpful and explained a few things. The paving was done, for better or worse, in an attempt to help preserve the original paving. A long section of concrete was also poured, using the original specifications, to replace a section of roadway that had been lost to landslides in the recent past. While we applaud the Forest Service for doing this, we can only do so with apprehension. The Ridge Route paving is a large part of the historic aspect of the road. Rarely is the roadway itself the piece of history. A wholesale repaving of the roadway would destroy what is there and leave little for the public to enjoy in the future. Repairing and repaving small sections, when necessary, is acceptable to a point. We plan to work more closely with the Forest Service to make sure such paving is done with the proper care and understanding this road needs.
On Monday, June 10, Michael Ballard (myself), Harrison Scott, Dave Omieczynski, and Richard Valot had a meeting with representatives from the Angeles National Forest. They included Jerry Perez – Forest Supervisor, Justin Seastrand – Environmental Coordinator, Ricardo Lopez – Road Engineer, and Jamahl Butler – District Ranger. Our meeting, which was held on the Ridge Route near the southern end, was to discuss a range of topics regarding the road. We initially met at the Ridge Route and Templin Highway where we made introductions and briefly went over the meeting details. From there, I led the group with my sportbike up the road to the southern gate. At that point, we discussed the land ownership problems and the 2010 paving, which we believe will help us with our goal of getting the road reopened.
After our discussion, they opened the gate and I led the
group on a tour of the Ridge Route from the southern gate to Reservoir Summit.
The initial plan, however, was to only go about four miles north to see the
recently reconstructed section of road. Each stop, the USFS people decided to
go a bit further. We didn’t mind this at all! Along the way, we made stops at
some of the sections of the roadway that had been repaired as well as some of
the historic sites along the road, such as the National Forest Inn site. At
each major stop, Scotty brought out his books and showed photos of the sites.
Once we got to Reservoir Summit, we had another discussion
regarding the state of the roadway. Overall, it was in very good shape with
only a few areas needing more immediate attention. Many sections had been
resurfaced and we did make it clear that we didn’t want to see a wholesale
repaving of the roadway for the sake of preservation. They seemed to understand
this. After our discussion and hike to the reservoir, we all headed back to the
southern gate to finalize our meeting.
The meeting was productive and positive. There is still a lot of work to be done, but they were willing to help and to work with us. Instead of a Memorandum of Understanding, we may be entering into a Volunteer Agreement regarding cleaning drains and such along the roadway. They also stated they would do additional research regarding the land ownership issue at the southern end of the roadway. In regards to opening the roadway, there is still no estimate on when it will reopen. Another concern is roadway maintenance, which we may be able to help defray with volunteer effort. There are still additional issues that need to be addressed but we at least have a better understanding of what the Forest Service sees as the problems. One of them, overall condition of the roadway and ability for vehicles to travel safely, I tried to prove by using my sportbike. If I can go on the roadway using that vehicle, most everyone should be able to pass over it safely as well.
Only time will tell if this meeting was truly successful,
but I believe it was. I will give additional updates when we hear back from the
USFS in the near future.
Reports are coming in that the Ridge Route is undergoing construction work. It seems to be taking place about 4 miles north of the southern gate. The construction, thus far, has been patchwork as well as possibly new concrete. The work is being done by Granite Construction Company, which has done work on the road in the past. So far, we don’t know who initiated the work or who is paying for it. Assuming the work is being done to proper standards, set out by the Ridge Route being on the National Register of Historic Places, this is a good sign. As the Federal Government is presently shut down, getting information from them has been a bit difficult. As soon as we find out, we will post the information here.
While the RRPO is dedicated to preserving and protecting the Ridge Route, we don’t always have a chance to get onto the road. We strongly encourage you to send us reports as to road conditions along the route. I live in San Diego, another of our board members live in the Bakersfield area.
So, if you have traveled the road recently, send us a report of conditions. We want to know what you saw, what the road was like, and if the gates were open. Did you see any signs that were new? Perhaps there was some vandalism? Please let us know. We intend to include this information in our reports to the Forest Service to help us get this road open and in better repair.