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NewThe Ridge Route Book - Now Available for online purchaseNew


Discovery, Find, Beginnings, Early, Challenge, Breaking, Paving, Residents, Tourists, Kelly's, Conclusion

Paving

  Two years after the road opened, the Highway Commission solicited bids to have the Ridge Route paved. It had been necessary to allow the great fills to settle thoroughly. There were various bids received but on December 31 , 1917 the Commission had received only one bid in response to its advertisement for paving all three sections. Fred Hoffman of Long Beach offered to do the job for $575,130.

    The engineers felt that the bid was too high. They calculated the paving job should cost no more than $378,879. They did not enter into a contract, especially as it was doubtful that the contract could be completed under war conditions.

   The Commission decided to go ahead with the paving itself in 1919 using day laborers. They completed the job at a cost of $700,000, and claimed a savings of $100,000 had it been done by contract even though they had not asked for, or received, any bids since the Hoffman bid of December 31, 1917. Judging from numbers alone, it would appear that Hoffman's bid was obviously below the Commissioner's cost, but then again, the Commission had delayed the paving for yet another year.

   Work started on the south end of the route near Castaic Wash.While work was being done on the first eight miles, a detour was in place.Once paving started on the Ridge itself, it was necessary to close the route in February, 1919.

   The road was paved with 4.5 inches of concrete with reinforced twisted iron bars laid transversely 18 inches apart, and bound on either side with rods laid lengthwise. Substantial concrete curbs were constructed at all dangerous points, six inches wide and ten high to protect reckless drivers and also to assist with drainage problems. The high curbs were installed in locations where it was impossible to anchor wooden rails. The high curbing acted as a deflector to the narrow tired vehicles should they get too close to the edge of the cliff. 

   The paving completed, the road reopened November 15, 1919. The entire job was finished except for a ten mile stretch between Lebec and Rose Station on the Kern County side. This section was oiled. A lack of funds prevented this section from being paved until a July bond issue was passed. The following spring would see this section completed. During the paving of this strip, a detour of one and one-sixth miles was necessary in the vicinity of the famous Grapevine Circle. The detour was a 20 percent climb and the road was adobe, a dangerous soil when wet. Three accidents happened on the detour in the first week, and motorists were warned by guards at both ends not to attempt the steep detour unless using low gear and having good brakes. Early cars without vacuum-feed fuel systems would be advised not to attempt going up the detour as the engine would ultimately be in a higher position than the gas tank.  After the Grapevine was paved and the detour eliminated, motorists still faced a healthy seven percent grade. Many truck drivers would wait until evening before tackling the climb to reduce the possibility of overheating.

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