Living in the mountains is a dream come true for many residents, no matter what mountain range or forest is your backyard. But that dream also comes with challenges.
Big Bear is a true four-season resort community. Being a resort community means our economy is primarily based on tourism. Which brings its own set of challenges.
Four seasons means that construction, road work and most outdoor activities are limited to a specific window with minimal wiggle room on either end depending on weather. We have to cram in a lot of work in a short amount of time, which when it comes to challenges, there is usually no happy medium.
On July 31, Caltrans will host a town hall meeting at the Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center to update the community on its rock fall barrier project on Highway 330. The installation and the associated work will cause traffic delays and include a full road closure for about two weeks in September.
On one hand, the mountaintop communities of Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead understand the need for the work. Safety of the roadways and the traveling motorists is paramount. And it has to be done during the summer and early fall to avoid rain and snow.
But closures affect business, especially in a tourist-driven economy. Will the roadwork and temporary closure turn people away? Will they adhere to the signs and numerous ways to warn them of the closure and urge them to use alternate routes to reach Big Bear?
We think those who want to come to Big Bear will still do so. They will use Highway 38 and Highway 18 from the High Desert. They will still venture into the Village and do their shopping and dining and lodging. The timing for the closure, Sept. 9-20, is after Labor Day when schools are back in session throughout the Southland. While fall is a perfect time to visit Big Bear, that few weeks usually sees a little lull before the fall rush begins. Oktoberfest opens Sept. 7, and it’s on the east side of town at the Convention Center. There is one major, and new, event scheduled for Sept. 12-15, which could be impacted, the Fox US OPen of Mountain Biking at Snow Summit. We believe Highways 38 and 18 will be pretty busy that weekend as the powers that be will make sure anyone and everyone associated and interested in this event know how to get here well before Sept. 12. And the road is scheduled to reopen Sept. 20 in time for Hot Dogz and Hand Rails on Sept. 21.
Closures are never welcome, but living in the mountains we know they are necessary. We encourage the residents to attend the July 31 meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Listen and share your thoughts and ideas. This project will keep our roads safer, especially in winter when rocks are known to come tumbling down. Without those barriers, the road could be closed even longer during a more critical time than September.