Road rage over PCH

Malibu business owners, hard hit by extended road closures, grilled Caltrans District Director Tony Harris Friday at the Mayor’s Breakfast.

Fielding questions about the Las Flores slide-repair project, which has restricted traffic on PCH to two lanes since June, Harris said the other two lanes are scheduled to reopen Nov. 11. Construction of a retaining wall at the top of the bluff should be completed within a week, after which dirt hauling will resume on a 7 a.m.-7 p.m.-7-day schedule.

Asked why the hauling could not be carried out 24 hours a day, Harris said the disposal site was not open longer hours.

One option to increase the flow of traffic was to open a third lane by moving cargo containers closer to the slide, but the contractor said this would restrict the work area and delay the opening by one month. A lane on the shoulder opposite the slide was determined to be unsafe for residents and workers. “The trail would block access to residents, and we still would have to move the sea trains back where they would restrict work,” Harris said.

Lloyd Prell, who had helped organize the residents and Duke’s to provide resident parking, asked if there were no dump sites open at night.

“None that are approved and available,” Harris said. “Proximity is important. If it’s too far, it exceeds the bid for the contract. I don’t have the money to go to an alternate dump site. But at this point, additional money wouldn’t help.”

Barbara Lazaroff, who designed Granita and husband Wolfgang Puck’s other restaurants, said, “I’ve found throwing more money can help tremendously on my job sites. It was an emergency. Why wasn’t it talked about sooner?”

Lyn Konheim asked, “Have you asked for dump sites locally? Asked the city?”

“We were not able to accomplish that,” Harris said. “If there was a site close, within the budget, I don’t have a problem of going back to look at that again.”

“It’s all about moving dirt,” said Ryan Embree. “Children learn how to do it at about age 3. We just need to do it on a bigger scale.”

Even after the Nov. 11 opening, Caltrans must build a retaining wall at the bottom and install a drainage system and landscaping (to prevent erosion), Harris said. The total work should be completed by the end of the year.

But if it rains, all bets are off.

“If the soil gets too weak, hauling stops,” Harris said. “We would rethink the third lane then.”

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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