55-Hour Weekend Road Closure

This is what to expect when Caltrans closes Topanga Canyon Boulevard down to one lane as it did this week in preparation for this weekend’s complete closure. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann

This weekend, Caltrans will implement a 55-hour closure of Topanga Canyon Boulevard (TCB)

from Grandview to Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), beginning (tonight) Friday, July 27, at 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., Monday, July 30, to complete emergency repair work.

Caltrans will clear eroding hillsides, removing rocks and loose debris, reinforcing hillsides with additional steel netting, and restoring an eroded slope embankment along Topanga Creek that resulted from the mudslides and subsequent clean-up earlier this year.

Earlier this week, motorists experienced delays on the Boulevard as trucks traveling south from the valley hauled in boulders, soil, and materials to stockpile in the work area. Caltrans flagmen were strategically placed to facilitate traffic as efficiently as possible when traffic was reduced to one lane.

Signs advising motorists to use US-101, Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road, as alternate routes were placed at all entrances to the canyon: on PCH in both directions; at Mulholland Highway and Old Topanga Canyon Road; Mulholland Drive and TCB; and the 101 Freeway. Motorists should expect delays and are strongly advised to use these routes or avoid the area.

Additionally, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) will be assisting with traffic control and detouring traffic in the area. Drivers can check traffic conditions before they leave by visiting Caltrans Quickmap.

According to Michael Dipsia, Caltrans Senior Construction Engineer, if the restoration is not finished by July 30, work will continue the following weekend on Friday, August 3, starting at 10 p.m., to Monday, August 6, until 5 a.m.

The safest detour from Topanga to PCH is via Old Topanga Canyon Road to Mulholland Highway or the 101 Freeway.

In response to residents’ concerns, an additional effort was made by Caltrans, the County, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), CHP, and all agencies concerned, to station personnel at Fernwood Pacific and Grandview to redirect motorists to alternate routes. Residents, of course, will have access.

During previous closures and emergencies, drivers have been directed by WAZE and other navigation devices to detour on these roads to Tuna Canyon and down to PCH, which caused serious congestion and delays. Tuna Canyon is a dangerous route to drive, especially for people unfamiliar with the narrow roads and precipitous incline. Another safety concern is that Tuna ends at PCH, where there is no traffic light for people who try to turn left across PCH.

Motorists are advised to take Old Topanga Canyon Road or TCB north to Mulholland Highway or the 101 Freeway to Malibu Canyon via Las Virgenes, or Kanan Road.

Any project of this size requires massive planning and coordination among many agencies and the residents who prize the environment and its wildlife. How to protect the creek concurrently with the construction was another challenge that had to be met.
Rosi Dagit, Senior Biologist for the Resource Conservation District (RCD), and her team, in collaboration with Eduardo Aguilar, Caltrans Senior Environmental Planner, conducted nesting bird surveys before construction and will again upon completion. Materials imported from outside Topanga to the job site will be checked and verified by Dagit to ensure there is no contamination to the quality of the flowing water during construction.
In addition, foliage may have to be removed to make way for the boulders (rip-rap) and fill materials to be placed along the creek. Under the supervision of Caltrans’ certified arborist, tree trimming would begin with the goal of saving as many trees as possible. Willow cuttings will be collected concurrently, placed in water-filled plastic barrels, stored and cared for at the RCD until restoration is completed. The cuttings will be planted by RCD volunteers at a future date, which may be an RCD educational event that parents can bring their kids along to help.

It’s a straight shot from the valley on your way to Theatricum Botanicum and nearby restaurants, Topanga Table and Topanga Living Café. Farther along is the Town Center where you can visit the library, art gallery, local shops and restaurants. The closure starts just south of Grandview.

Topanga Beach Bus service is cancelled for Saturday, July 28, and Sunday, July 29.
For more information and updates, check OneTopanga.com or call Caltrans Traffic Management Center at (323) 259-2353.

What some residents and commuters to Topanga may regard as a nuisance, is really an essential public service. Projects like this road closure involve months of planning and intricate collaboration among numerous county and state officials, as well as communication with local volunteer organizations. It is reassuring to know that the County and its highly skilled workers have our backs.
It is equally reassuring to know that this also happens because of a relationship that Topanga’s local organizations have established over the years with the many agencies serving the area.

Topanga would not continue to be the beautiful place it is had these people not listened to each other and worked together when it comes time to get things done.


Flavia Potenza

Flavia Potenza is executive editor of the Messenger Mountain News. She is also a founding member of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger that closed its doors in 2016. She can be reached at editor@messengermountainnews.com

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