Now that traffic is once again flowing down Pacific Coast Highway and the folks living near Las Flores are slated for repairs, roads are no longer the No. 1 topic of conversation around town. But Public Works Director John Clement said a new problem on Corral Canyon Road has caught his attention and stands at the very top of his priority list. “I can’t let that road go because I’ll trap a couple hundred homeowners up at the top,” said Clement.
Clement said three ancient landslides lie near Corral Canyon Road. Two have been activated by February storms, causing the winding, two-lane road to buckle and crack. “We are monitoring it literally on a daily basis and we’re constantly repaving it,” said Clement. “We’re just trying to keep it safe to drive over.”
But the fresh patches of asphalt quickly gave way to the recent slide. “They did a really good job of that [paving] but, as of last night, it’s breaking up again,” said Corral Canyon resident Bill Tol.
There are two alternate routes out of Corral Canyon. Both are private easements, neither is paved. Tol said a gate, accessible only to fire and emergency officials, blocks a road to Mulholland Highway and Puerco Road, a dirt road that empties out near the Fish Market on PCH, is blocked by a fresh landslide. “That would be our normal emergency access road,” said Tol.
The paving is meant only to make the road smoother and safer to travel on, not to remedy the situation. Clement said the cost to repair the existing road would likely be around $1 million. The slip plane, or area of instability, is 32 feet deep. Caissons, or pilings, like those installed near Big Rock, would have to be more than 60 feet high in order to effectively hold up the road.
According to Clement, the most cost-effective approach would be to pioneer a new road slightly to the west, out of the landslide area. Clement estimates the cost at $250,000, which may be reimbursable through FEMA. That land is owned by Los Angeles City Water and Power. It was to be the site of a nuclear power plant, a plan foiled by residents. Clement said city technical engineers have touched base with the landowners and talks have been “less than fruitful.”
Clement said he will ask Mayor Joan House to speak to L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to see if he can set the process in motion. “That road serves about 220 county residents,” said Clement. “Hopefully I can convince the county that they have a real vested interest in trying to help us resolve the situation.”