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Millions Spent To Keep El Niño From Sinking PCH

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A basic history lesson will tell you that Pacific Coast Highway is perhaps the most disaster prone road in all of Southern California. Fires burning in the Malibu hills close the road down every few years, as do heavy rains that either wash out or pour mud all over the road with a certain amount of regularity. None of this is to even mention the road’s danger as a piece of infrastructure, mixing together freeway speed traffic with bicycles, pedestrians, and parallel parking tourists.

But State officials are doing their best to make sure this year’s El Niño doesn’t turn the road into the disaster area it’s so prone to. Reporting from the Los Angeles Times reveals Caltrans has spent millions of dollars attempting to reinforce the road against the elements.

For example, Caltrans began building a 20-foot high sea-wall—with boulders weighing as much as 14 tons—along Las Tunas State Beach in Malibu in November. The wall is there essentially to keep pounding waves from El Niño’s storm surge from washing away a particularly vulnerable portion of the road.

Near Point Mugu, Caltrans erected a giant steel net to catch rocks sliding down the hillside from crashing down onto the road, potentially on top of traffic.

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All of this is to keep the road as useable as possible when the heavy rains do come.

In December of 2014, heavy rains forced Caltrans to shut down a 9-mile stretch of the road north of Malibu for almost three months after more than a dozen mudslides made the road impassable between Malibu and Oxnard. The road finally fully reopened after months of construction work.

Evidently officials don’t want to see a repeat of the event again.

PCH closures manufacture some serious inconvenience for people who depend on the road. If a closure happens between Los Angeles and Malibu, people can find themselves driving around for hours on canyon roads and Valley freeways for a trip that, if the road was open, would take just minutes.

Lets hope the work pays off, and El Niño doesn’t make PCH fall into the sea.