[KHTS] – Geologists and public works officials are unsure of Vasquez Canyon Road’s fate as a slow-moving landslide continues to destroy the road.
The landslide in late November sent sections of the pavement as high as fifteen feet in the air, closing the road indefinitely.
“The intention is to rebuild and reopen the road,” said Steven Frasher, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.The slow-moving landslide that has destroyed, and continues to destroy, part of the road along Vasquez Canyon Road has left geologists and public works officials unclear of the roads future.
As for the cause of the landslide, county officials have no answers.
“Everything is being looked into because nothing is obvious,” Frasher said. “There’s no indication that seismic activity had anything to do with it.”
There have been no freezing of the ground, recent storms, or seismic activity that county geologists are aware of.
“It’s a very high priority for us,” Frasher said, “but it’s also a very complicated one.”
Los Angeles County Office of Public Works officials are also having trouble contacting the owner of the area of the road that is buckling, said Frasher.
Since the land is technically private property, Public Works can not move forward until the owner gives permission, said Frasher.
“We had geologist out there this week, and we will have geologists out there next week as well,” Frasher said. “The geologists say the road is still buckling.”
Frasher said that a potential idea concerning how the landslide occurred is that water from the Oct. 15 storm may have seeped into the ground and weakened the soil, but that there has been no outward indication that the storm caused the landslide, meaning that there is no way of confirming this theory.
Frasher said that there are no easily found reasons for an event like this to happen.
“It’s a bit of a mystery,” he said.
And while the ground is still unstable, there is a limit to what can be done.
“With the road is still moving, there’s a limit to what we can do in terms of road mitigation,” said Frasher. “It would be fruitless and potentially dangerous until the geologic situation stabilizes.”
But according to Frasher, the closure is not something that will be fixed quickly.
A California Highway Patrol officer on the scene remarked that the road closure could be an inconvenience for first responders.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “it’s a really good shortcut for emergency responders.”
Crews from Southern California Edison have shut off the power lines that run along the canyon, and have begun work taking down the wires that stretch between them, as several of the power poles lining the road have been affected by the damage.