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Caltrans Rock Climbers Remove Loose Rocks off Pacific Coast Highway

Crews are working to make the Pacific Coast Highway safer, while the highway is closed from Las Posas Road near Camarillo to Yerba Buena Road near Malibu.

On Tuesday, more than a dozen Caltrans Rock Climbers came out to the highway to help remove some of the loose rocks. The project was conducted while a hard closure is in effect from Las Posas Road near Camarillo to Yerba Buena Road near Malibu. Workers are using the closure as an opportunity to not only clean up the mess left behind from last month’s storm but also to protect commuters and remove dangerous rocks that are loose, and could become dangerous.

Caltrans workers worked on a slope that is 150 feet high and 250 feet wide on Tuesday. The group started their work by making an anchor to rappel off of at the top of the slope. The climbers then slowly worked down the hillside as a team releasing the rocks.

“Scaling is a technique in which you are suspended from a rope and you are going to try and remove the rocks that are now loose with your hands and feet, and if the rocks are kind of loose you can use a bar or a pick to remove the rocks, if the rock doesn’t move. We don’t touch it,” said Caltrans Geologist, Gustavo Ortega.

The 10-mile stretch of the highway from Las Posas Road near Camarillo to Yerba Buena Road near Malibu closed in early December after heavy rains caused 12 to 15 mud slides along the Pacific Coast Highway, leaving several feet of mud, rocks and boulders all over the highway.

These mudslides are coming from the same hills that were charred by the Springs Fire in May of 2013.

“There is no doubt the fire was one of the factors for the slope being in this condition,” said Ortega.

Caltrans along with a separate contractor have been hired to remove all the mud and rocks. They are also repositioning the k-rails that were displaced by the slide.

“We understand the inconvenience but this is more than just moving mud. We can’t let anyone in here until we feel the highway is safe for everybody,” said Patrick Chandler with Caltrans.

The closure on this section of the Pacific Coast Highway will remain for a few more weeks. Caltrans expects the highway to reopen to the public at the end of January.

The California Highway Patrol advises people to use alternate routes, most likely that is going to be Highway 101.

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