The Angeles Crest Highway is a two-lane (one lane of travel in each direction) segment of California State Route 2, a mountain road, in the United States.
The road is 66 miles (106 km) in length, with its western terminus at the intersection at Foothill Boulevard in La Cañada Flintridge and its eastern terminus at State Route 138 northeast of Wrightwood. The majority of the route passes through the mountainous terrain located north of the Los Angeles basin. Its alignment passes through the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains. Segments of the road reach altitudes above 7,000 feet (2,100 m), with a summit of 7,903 feet (2,409 m) at the Dawson Saddle, which makes this road one of the highest in Southern California.
Construction for Angeles Crest Highway began in 1929. It was originally intended to be a fire access road. In 1941 construction stopped because of World War II. In 1946, after the war, construction resumed; the completed highway eventually opened in 1956. The road was constructed by prison labor staying at Camp 37.
Intersections with other roads are few which can be problematic in the event of road closures due to acts of nature such as landslides and fires. At about the midpoint of the highway is the junction with the north terminus of State Route 39. However, access to State Route 39 is not possible as it is closed indefinitely to automobile traffic because of persistent landslides along its route. Therefore, travelers to the Angeles National Forest preferring the Angeles Crest Highway corridor should expect to be on the Angeles Crest Highway throughout much of its length, use available alternate routing where possible, or be willing to turn around and retrace their trip at any point along its route if necessary.
The Angeles Crest Highway is normally closed in the wintertime from Islip Saddle to Vincent Gap due to rockfall and avalanche hazards.
The winter storms of 2004-05 caused several landslides and significant damage to the highway. Thus, the highway never reopened in the summer of 2005. Damage to the highway was estimated to be over 4 million dollars as of November 2005. Terri Kasinga, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation, stated in November 2005 "It is definitely not going to open until next spring (of 2006)". However, a March 2006 storm caused even more extensive damage to the highway including a complete washout of a large section of roadway, further delaying the reopening of the highway. The long closure caused concern for the United States Forest Service and other emergency services agencies because it hindered access, particularly with firefighting efforts, and it hurt business in Wrightwood. After a four and a half year closure, the highway reopened on May 20, 2009. Repairs included the construction of a new bridge intended to allow landslides to pass underneath without damaging the road. The work cost $10.5 million.
A moratorium on three-axles trucks was imposed in 2009 following the deaths of two people when a tractor trailer lost control and crashed into La Cañada businesses.
Cell phone reception can be sporadic and, when available, signal strength and clarity is poor. Although the surrounding mountainous terrain is the primary reason for this, the limited presence of, and/or proximity to,cellular communication antennas to receive and transmit signals along the route contributes to the problem.
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act passed in December 2004, protects the Angeles National Forest. Although anyone can park at the side of the road and access the wilderness along the side of the road, doing so for extended periods of time, such as camping or hiking, requires a National Forest Adventure Pass available for a $5.00 fee.
During the 2009 wildfire season the large fire known as the "Station Fire" burned the mountains through which Route 2 travels. The fire damaged the signs, guardrails, and lane striping, as well as leaving large boulders and other debris all over the road. As a result, the highway was closed by Caltrans until November 30, 2009. It was briefly re-opened until mud and rock slides in early 2010 forced a portion of the highway to be closed again from 2 miles east of the I-210 junction to 14 miles east of La Canada. It reopened on June 3, 2011.
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