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REPAIRS TO BEGIN FOR STORM-DAMAGED SECTION OF ANGELES CREST HIGHWAY.

Byline: Daily News

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST - Repairs expected to cost more than $6.5 million resumed this week on a storm-damaged section of Angeles Crest Highway that has been closed more than 18 months.

The two-lane mountain highway, hit by the worst storm damage in its 50-year history, will remain closed this summer, but Caltrans officials hope to have it reopened by summer 2007 - unless more bad storm damage occurs next winter.

``That was the worst it's ever been. There were numerous avalanches during the 2004 winter,'' Terri Kasinga.

The only east-west route through the San Gabriel Mountains, and more than a mile high along much of its length, the 66-mile-long highway closes most winters where it crosses a steep mountain face west of the Mountain High ski resort because of snow, avalanches and rockslides, then reopens each spring.

But starting in October 2004, severe storms that continued through February 2005 caused several large avalanches and slides, damaging the road in 17 locations across a 10-mile stretch between Vincent Gap and Islip Saddle and leaving large piles of rocks, trees and debris.

The repairs include rebuilding several slopes supporting the highway and placing steel and concrete structures in three other locations to hold it up.

Repairs began in November but winter storms halted the work and caused new damage to the road and the slopes it crosses.

Among the new damage early this year was collapse of the slope beneath the highway just west of Vincent Gap.

That stretch must be repaired so construction equipment can reach the main damage to the west, Kasinga said.

``We have to fix that before we can get in to do the work,'' she said.

The original cost of repairs was $6.5 million, but officials are awaiting an additional estimate for the new damage. Work will continue until next winter's storms, officials said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 5, 2006
Words:310
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