Framework

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April 9, 1979: A ridge up to 5 feet high appears on the northbound Pacific Coast Highway as a result of earth movement. The incident occurred in the 19300 block of PCH. This photo was published in the April 10, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

April 14, 1979: Rocks sit on Pacific Coast Highway north of Topanga Canyon Boulevard, forcing the closure of the road. This photo was published in the April 15, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

April 16, 1979: A patrol car is dwarfed by boulders the fell on Pacific Coast Highway in a continuation of slides that began several days before. This photo was published on Page One of the April 17, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

April 16, 1979: A large rock rests near a home in the 19700 block of Pacific Coast Highway after a rock slide closed the road. A dog watches from the roof. This photo was published in the April 17, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

April 16, 1979: Malibu residents Lori Lake and Chuck Kokoliss carry their clothes as they walk past large boulders on Pacific Coast Highway, on their way to work. Over five miles of PCH was closed to traffic following a landslide. This photo was published in the April 17, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

April 17, 1979: An aerial view shows a landslide that dumped tons of rocks and boulders on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. A Caltrans rig works on construction of a 6-foot-high dirt barrier in the center of the highway just behind the homes in the foreground. This photo was published in the April 18, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times

April 17, 1979: With sophisticated equipment for sound, geologist Marvin McCauley listens for landslide rumbles from a fissure atop a crumbling cliff. Pacific Coast Highway is in the background. This photo was published in the April 19, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

April 19, 1979: Work-bound Malibu residents, blocked by a new fence from using rock-strewn Pacific Coast Highway, walk along the beach toward their cars. This photo was published in the April 20, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

April 19, 1979: A biker detours to the beach around a fence put up at the Malibu slide area. This photo was published in the April 20, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

April 19, 1979: Caltrans workers start construction of a fence to keep pedestrians out of a portion of Pacific Coast Highway that was closed by a landslide. Part of the slide is seen behind the workers. This photo was published in the April 19, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

April 19, 1979: Workers building a fence to seal off Pacific Coast Highway in the Malibu area look up as a small rock slide cascades down the slope, leaving a trail of dust. This photo was published in the April 20, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

April 20, 1979: A Malibu resident runs along boulder-strewn Pacific Coast Highway to his car, parked south of the blockaded area. State officials bowed to angry complaints and are allowing pedestrians to pass through the slide area to avoid long detours. This photo was published in the April 20, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bill Varie / Los Angeles Times

April 24, 1979: A resident walks along the Malibu slide area that closed Pacific Coast Highway. An estimated 25,000 commuters were affected by the closure. This photo was published in the April 25, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bill Varie / Los Angeles Times

April 24, 1979: Malibu residents compete for the attention of Caltrans Director Adriana Gianturco, not pictured, at a meeting about a landslide that closed Pacific Coast Highway. This photo was published in the April 25, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

April 26, 1979: A Rapid Transit District bus is allowed to pass through the closed section of Pacific Coast Highway. The highway was closed for several weeks by a landslide. This photo was published in the April 27, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dave Gatley / Los Angeles Times

April 26, 1979: Children on the east side of a landslide that closed Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu head to Webster Elementary School on the other side of the slide. This photo was published in the April 27, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dave Gatley / Los Angeles Times

April 30, 1979: Jim White is the only passenger on the second ferry run from Malibu to the Santa Monica Pier. Six passengers were on the first run. A landslide had closed Pacific Coast Highway. This photo was published in the May 1, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

April 30, 1979: A water taxi approaches the Santa Monica breakwater during the first day of service between Santa Monica and Malibu after Pacific Coast Highway was closed by a landslide. This photo was published in the May 1, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

May 1, 1979: Commuters from the Malibu side of a closed Pacific Coast Highway walk to the Santa Monica side. A landslide closed PCH for several weeks. This photo was published in the May 2, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

May 6, 1979: Motorcyclists and drivers await the opening of Pacific Coast Highway following its closure by an April landslide. This photo was published in the May 7, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Pacific Coast Highway

May 7, 1979: Pacific Coast Highway at Big Rock is seen during morning rush hour with very few cars. The highway had just been reopened following a landslide closure. An earth berm and a 200-foot-long screen protect the roadway. This photo was published in the May 8, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times

May 8, 1979: A cyclist lugs his bike through the surf at a Malibu rock slide area before the pedestrian walkway was opened. This photo was published in the May 10, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

May 8, 1979: A new rock slide tears through a recently installed restraining fence on Pacific Coast Highway. The road was closed again.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeels Times

May 17, 1979: Malibu residents come and go past a new 25-foot-high barrier beginning to take shape along Pacific Coast Highway. A second landslide closed the highway. This photo was published in the May 18, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

May 20, 1979: Malibu Towing prepares to pull away a parked car that was blocking traffic during the reopening of Pacific Coast Highway. The highway had been closed by an April 1979 landslide. This photo was published in the May 21, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times

May 23, 1979: Cars pass in front of a new barrier along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu built to hold back falling dirt and rocks. This photo was published in the May 26, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 9, 1979: A 1,000-pound boulder sits wedged inside a Caltrans barrier in the 19700 block of Pacific Coast Highway after falling from a cliff that was being reshaped during a Caltrans construction project. This photo was published in the Oct. 9, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Geroge Fry / Los Angeles Times

Oct. 10, 1979: A rock is dislodged during a Caltrans project to stabilize the hillside in the Big Rock section of Pacific Coast Highway. This photo was published in the Oct. 11, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

June 12, 1980: The temporary wall built by Caltrans at the Big Rock slide location along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is seen just before it was dismantled. This photo was published in the June 26, 1980 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

June 12, 1980: The wall along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is dismantled after about 225,000 cubic yards of rock and dirt were removed from the hillside, easing slide dangers. This photo was published in the June 13, 1980, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

June 26, 1980: The hillside next to Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is seen after a temporary wall was removed. Caltrans graded the hillside in a $7-million project to lessen landslide danger after an April 1979 slide forced the closure of PCH for about a month. The site is near Big Rock Drive. This photo was published in the July 13, 1980, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry / Los Angeles Times

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1979 rock slide closes Pacific Coast Highway

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1979 rock slide closes Pacific Coast Highway

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A slow, torturous rock slide closed Pacific Coast Highway twice in 1979 — from April 14 to May 6, then again from May 8 to May 20. An estimated 25,000 commuters struggled to find alternate routes.

Staff writer Ronald L. Solbe wrote a detailed follow-up story in the July 13, 1980, Los Angeles Times. Here are some excerpts:

One of the most troublesome landslides along Pacific Coast Highway occurred April 14, 1979, when tons of earthen debris rumbled onto the roadway near Big Rock Drive in Malibu. State highway workers eventually built a huge wall of wood and girders to protect motorists and nearby houses from falling boulders. 071380SlideMap200

Last month, the wall was removed. The slide area has been sloped and covered with a giant wire net to keep it stable. …

… in the last three years, the Pacific Coast Highway’s heavily traveled 26-mile-long Malibu artery has been closed a total of 69 days because of fire, landslide and flood disasters, according to Caltrans.

Last year alone, a landslide closed the main road to Malibu for more than a month, a situation just now culminating in a repair bill of about $7 million for an 800-foot stretch of highway. …

During these two shutdowns, frustrated Malibu commuters were forced to take both a time- and gasoline-consuming detour either over the winding roads of the Santa Monica Mountains or the traffic-choked Ventura Freeway in the San Fernando Valley.

At the same time, all kinds of proposals rained on Caltrans. They ranged from blasting away the cliff with dynamite to building an expensive causeway out in the ocean that would permanently detour around the slide area.

Caltrans’ Adriana Gianturco was clearly in the hot seat as the agency cautiously analyzed its options. Finally, it settled on the $7-million cure involving a redesign of the Big Rock cliff. …

In June, 1980, work finished on the redesigned Big Rock cliff.

The map to the right shows an area of the 1979 landslide and closure of Pacific Coast Highway. The map was published in the July 13, 1980, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Don Clement / Los Angeles Times/ProQuest

A previous photo gallery, Pacific Coast Highway closed by landslide – again, includes photos from 1941 to 1994.

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