August 8, 2005
The following is a news release from the Ridge Route Preservation Organization, a California Non-Profit Corporation.
Harrison I. Scott, Pres.
Web Site: www.RidgeRoute.com
On July 26, 2005, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors vacated a portion of the Historic 1915 Ridge Route. The 17.6 mile vacated section is north of Templin Highway on the south, near Castaic and south of Pine Canyon Road on the north near Highway 138 and lies entirely within the Angeles National Forest. The road has been closed since January when record winter rains severely damaged the road causing a 75 foot section to fail and slip 15 feet down the canyon. Due to the extent of the damage it was necessary to determine if Los Angeles County owned the road or if the road had reverted to the United States Forest Service when it was bypassed in 1933 by the Ridge Alternate, also known as U. S. Highway 99. The Ridge Route was the first highway to connect northern and southern California over the San Gabriel and Tehachapi mountain barrier and was the first mountain highway built by the California Department of Highways. Over the years, the U. S. Forest Service has limitedly repaired the road in an unofficial capacity for use as a fire and utility access route. The vacated section is the same section of highway that was placed onto the National Register in 1997. A title search revealed that California gave the 1915 route to Los Angeles County in 1934. The County never maintained the section within the National Forest and to do so today would have required the county to bring the road up to current safety criteria which in turn would destroy the early 1900 engineering design of the road. With Los Angeles County vacating the road, the U. S. Forest Service will be able to control, protect and maintain the historic design, character and nature of this important California landmark. When the paperwork is finalized and the ownership is officially transferred to the U. S. Forest Service they will be able to apply for funds to repair the road. Both the 1915 highway and the 1933 Ridge Alternate were replaced by today's I-5 Ridge Route in 1970. The Ridge Route Preservation Organization has worked to resolve the ownership issue and supports vacating the road to the Forest Service so repairs can be accomplished. The Ridge Route Preservation Organization recognizes and thanks the following people for making this possible: Jody Noiron, Angeles Forest Supervisor; Sonja Bergdahl, Angeles Forest Engineer; Michael J. McIntyre, Angeles Forest Archaeologist; Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and Senior Deputy Bob Haueter; William H. Higley, Assistant Deputy Director and Donald L. Wolfe, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works; Linda R. Lambourne, Field Representative for Congressman McKeon; California Senator George Runner and Leon Worden, Multimedia Editor, The Signal.