Due to damage caused by the Route Fire and as well as their ongoing effort to expand the Interstate 5, Caltrans officials announced Thursday that they would be fully closing all lanes of the traffic in Castaic over the course of the next several nights.
The overnight closures are expected to occur over the course of five nights in the next week, and will prevent all through traffic from north of Lake Hughes Road to Templin Highway.
In a statement distributed on Thursday, Caltrans officials noted that the original plan was to close only two lanes in order to pave the inside shoulder for nearly 2 miles. However, due to the Route Fire that burned in Castaic last week causing significant damage to the roadway, the remaining two lanes had to be closed as well in order to prevent further stress on the roadway’s retaining walls.
“The safety of the motorists and truckers is our primary goal,” said Gloria Roberts, Caltrans District 7 acting district director. “The Route Fire caused extensive damage to the two retaining walls, and traffic cannot travel on the two right lanes until more permanent repairs are completed.”
Divided into two phases, the first closure of all lanes will occur on Thursday and Friday from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. The contractor, Caltrans said, will use this time to place 2,400 feet of asphalt concrete in a section already under construction.
Phase 2 will take place each night from Sept. 11 to Sept. 15, and all northbound lanes will be closed each night from 11:59 p.m. until 10 a.m. After the final stretch of roughly 6,000 feet is completed, motorists will have three lanes to travel on for the northbound I-5 in the area.
“The contractor is moving quickly to get the excavated portion paved prior to the heavy storms expected with Hurricane Kay, scheduled to arrive on Friday, Sept. 9,” Caltrans officials said in their statement. “The California Highway Patrol will be enforcing all closures.”
In order to assist motorists, for each night of the closures the turnaround gate at Parker Road — which has been used in the past to alleviate congestion caused by Grapevine closures and other SigAlerts — will be opened to return motorists to the southbound side of the I-5.
“This will require two left lanes of southbound I-5 to be closed each time to allow trucks with the radius to turn,” read the Caltrans statement. “Motorists are strongly encouraged to use State Route 14 just north of Sylmar on I-5, State Route 126/Newhall Ranch Road from I-5 to US 101 or US 101 from downtown Los Angeles. Motorists are also advised to expect delays on southbound I-5.”
However, construction on the road does not end after next week as the retaining walls that burned during the Route Fire were “severely compromised” and lane closures for repairs may take until at least mid-November to complete, according to Caltrans.
“The largest wall is 1,400 feet long and the other is 400 feet long and some of the vertical steel columns are warped, wall tiebacks are broken and horizontal anchors into the dirt may have been damaged,” said the Caltrans release. “The cracks on the asphalt road where it meets the concrete shoulder have widened to 2 inches. Much of the timber lagging has fallen off the wall while the remaining boards have burned.”
The Route Fire, which broke out on Aug. 31 near the I-5 and Lake Hughes Road, was active for five days and burned roughly 5,208 acres. The cause of the fire, as of the publication of this story, remains under investigation.
The Grapevine corridor, and thereby extension the Santa Clarita Valley, remains one of the busiest sections of highway in the United States, with more than 100,000 commuters traveling through the mountain pass daily.
Real-time travel information can be found at quickmap.dot.ca.gov or by calling the Caltrans Highway Information Service, 1-800-427-7623.