A series of heavy storms have slammed California causing mudslides in the Southland, snow along the West Coast, whiteout conditions in the Sierras, and rain totals well beyond normal. The storm systems dumped 18 trillion gallons of rain on California during the month of February — and the state’s highways are suffering.
In between showers, Caltrans road crews have been busy assessing the damage and erosion, and trying to put a price tag on how much it will cost to repair the state’s highways and byways.
In Southern California, recent debris flows and flooding in the San Jacinto and San Bernardino mountains have caused extensive damage to roadways, prompting costly repair work. Some highways to be closed for months as crews work on repairs that will cost at least $14 million.
Riverside County: One of the most damaged areas is Highway 243 in Riverside County, where a large hole formed underneath the road after heavy rains eroded the soil. As the rain poured down, the hole made way for a fast-flowing waterfall. The highway will be closed between the 10 Freeway and the city of Idyllwild for at least two months, according to Caltrans. Meanwhile, Highway 74 in Lake Hemet will be closed from Valle Vista to Mountain Center for at least a month. Combined, Caltrans estimates repairs to both highways will cost $8 million. In the Coachella Valley, also in Riverside County, the southbound lane of the 111 Freeway will be closed for at least a month, due to “road loss.” Caltrans said roadwork there will cost $3.5 million.
San Bernardino County: In Big Bear Lake, Highway 18 between Green Valley Lake and Big Bear Dam will be closed for two weeks after heavy storms caused multiple parts of the highway to collapse under its own weight. The estimated cost of repairs there is $2.5 million, but that figure could go up if other damaged areas are discovered or if further storms cause additional damage.
Los Angeles County: A large rockslide led to the closure of the 2 Freeway between Mt. Wilson Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road. Elsewhere, snowy conditions have also closed the Angeles Crest Highway between Kratka Ridge and Big Pines. Caltrans road crews say both areas are closed until further notice.
The amount of rain that has recently pounded the region has been too much for many of the state’s roads to withstand, explained Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga. All of the closures in Riverside and San Bernardino counties were caused by erosion that destroyed portions of the roadways, she said. “There was so much water that it eroded over and under the pavement … and it collapsed,” she said.