Framework

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A Caltrans employee unlocks a gate blocking access to a section of Highway 39 that has been closed for 30 years. Caltrans has plans to legally abandon Highway 39 in the San Gabriel Mountains, a 27-mile-long stretch prone to landslides, flooding and forest fires that has been very expensive to maintain.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Caltrans worker Patrick Chandler removes rocks from a minor slide on Highway 39. The agency is trying to hand over responsibility for the road to another agency, but so far there are no takers.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

The highest part of the road was swept away by a landslide in 1978, cutting it off from Angeles Crest Highway and turning Highway 39 into what a spokesman called "a 27-mile-long cul-de-sac."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Fallen boulders line Highway 39. Caltrans, which spends $1.5 million a year maintaining the two-lane roadway, said that abandonment is a rare step.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

A Caltrans crew works to clear debris from Highway 39. About 500 people rely on the highway to reach their homes, a local resident said.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Metal stakes hold back rocks at the base of a cliff above Highway 39, which Caltrans hopes to turn over to the U.S. Forest Service or Los Angeles County.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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Giving up on Highway 39

Caltrans plans to legally abandon Highway 39 in the San Gabriel Mountains, a 27-mile-long stretch prone to rock slides, flooding, forest fires and steep maintenance costs.

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