Labor Day is over and the summer season is coming to a close. There are still many fall activities and events in Big Bear for residents and visitors to enjoy, so don’t go into hibernation just yet.
But you do need to prepare if you are coming or going. The most traveled route to the mountains will be closed, or at least a portion will be, beginning Monday, Sept. 9. Highway 330 between Highland Avenue and Route 18/Hilltop Boulevard will be closed in both directions from Sept. 9 to Sept. 20.
During the closure, rock scaling, slope excavations and barriers will be constructed. This work is necessary and while some would have preferred a longer lead time, it isn’t a surprise.
We agree, Caltrans needs to communicate even the slimmest possibility for a hard closure that is expected to be long-term well in advance. And by well in advance, we are talking at least a year, not a month or two.
We understand the need for the work, and due to weather, there is a small window that all road work must fit into. But Caltrans doesn’t plan these type projects with only a month or two lead time before beginning. In fact, this project was in the planning stages more than a year ago, but details weren’t known, so information wasn’t made public. It’s understandable that scaring the general public isn’t wise, but communication is vital.
In a tourist-driven economy, where events are the lifeblood of the community, knowing when a road is going to be closed for a major project will help event planners determine the best dates to avoid traffic delays. Had Big Bear Mountain Resort known in January of this planned closure, they might have adjusted the date for the Fox U.S. Open of Mountain Biking set to begin Sept. 12 — the one weekend during the closure.
Will the closure impact the event? Maybe, maybe not, but we won’t know due to the road being closed and this is a first time for this event on the West Coast.
There are still three ways to get to Big Bear, even with the closure. The Valley isn’t closed off. Commuters may need to add a few extra minutes to their travel time, but for the most part, there will be no difference in getting to Big Bear or heading home.
We know the rock-fall barrier project is necessary. Being inconvenienced for 12 days is much better than a tragedy when a boulder comes crashing down onto the highway.
We just ask for a little more notice.