Pacific Coast Highway — the beast that Malibu begrudgingly needs.
A mix of long-term projects, unannounced lane closures and countless traffic accidents constantly affect the everyday commute along PCH, and this year is proving no different. Now, a year-long lane closure in Santa Monica has been extended three more months, the California Incline is about to close for a year and a mudslide over the weekend provided another scare for those who commute on PCH into Ventura County.
Sewer project hits three-month snag
With an original completion date estimated for April 2015, it seemed the PCH lane closure between the California Incline and Chautauqua Boulevard in Santa Monica was nearly over. But recent developments have pushed back the completion date until June 2015.
Formally called the Coastal Interceptor Relief Sewer (CIRS) project, the $10 million project began in April 2014. It was only recently discovered that workers were constructing atop “soil deficiencies” underneath PCH.
“Correction of these unexpected soil deficiencies will require significant work to bolster the area,” according to the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, which monitors projects along PCH.
Tunneling and construction of a new 900-foot pipeline are apparently complete, but the soil underneath PCH needs further bolstering in order for the project to sustain after it is completed because it has been caving in as soil moves downward. The soil also needs to be further compacted.
The CIRS project has made the morning commute in and out of Santa Monica a struggle for those who live or work in Malibu, Topanga and Pacific Palisades, bottlenecking traffic as soon as westbound I-10 ends at McClure Tunnel and eastbound at Chautauqua.
California Incline closing soon
A long-awaited and long-dreaded project to stabilize the California Incline -— which connects Ocean Avenue to Pacific Coast Highway — will completely shut down the connector for one year beginning in early April. Thus, for at least three months, the Incline and lanes in both directions of PCH in Santa Monica will be simultaneously closed.
Despite pleas from commuters and locals, the construction company hired by the City of Santa Monica will only work a daytime shift Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association. Many had hoped work would be done around-the-clock in order to speed up the project.
Several fixed-message signs are slated to go up in Topanga, Santa Monica and Highway 101 this month, warning commuters and tourists of the project.
The Incline project is not going to be done until at least Memorial Day 2016, according to the City of Santa Monica. However, city officials are hopeful that traffic will flow quickly along PCH since the traffic signal at the bottom of the Incline will be green most of the time.
Another mudslide closes western PCH at County Line
Less than two days after Caltrans held a press conference on Friday, Feb. 27 celebrating the reopening of Pacific Coast Highway in western Malibu, a mudslide closed it again on Sunday morning at Point Mugu Rock.
Workers cleared the debris all day Sunday, and the road was reopened on Monday morning.
The slide followed a 77-day closure instituted by Caltrans in early December in which the state agency tried to correct unstable land above PCH. The instability was a repercussion of the 2013 Springs Fire that tore through Ventura County and stretched to Point Mugu State Park.
State and local government agencies had worked on and off since 2013 to find a solution to the issue, the latest work including new cement barriers and wire netting on slopes meant to protect the road.