Malibu was isolated by two major road closures for hours on Tuesday, leaving commuters and some school kids stranded.
Power lines burned and dangled above the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades in the morning, and the vital coastal road was out of commission for the start of the evening rush hour. Although officials initially expected the road to be closed well into the night, Department of Water and Power crews finished their work and the road was reopened shortly after 5 p.m.
West of Malibu, the road into Ventura County remained closed for a second day due to mud and rock slides. Meanwhile, Kanan Dume Road was closed due to a fatal two-vehicle crash just before 4 p.m.
Three buses filled with Malibu High School students spent hours stuck in PCH traffic, cut off from their homes in the Sunset Mesa neighborhood and in Santa Monica.
About 4:30 p.m., parents were told that two bus loads of students heading to Topanga Canyon and Sunset Mesa would be dropped off at their normal stops once traffic began moving again. But the buses had been stopped in traffic for 90 minutes and counting.
A third bus was to be routed through Topanga Canyon, Calabasas, Sepulveda Pass and West L.A. before dropping kids at two locations in Santa Monica, “but that’s only once it gets moving,” Malibu High School principal Dave Jackson said.
The downed power lines were reported about 10:20 a.m. just east of Sunset Boulevard, Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department said. PCH was closed between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Temescal Canyon Road, and traffic was not allowed onto Sunset Boulevard, the only parallel road in the area. Motorists were instead sent on a 25-mile detour via the Ventura (101) and San Diego (405) freeways.
The MTA’s busy Route 534 out of Santa Monica ran only as far as the closure, and the several MTA buses stuck in Malibu were used to shuttle passengers back and forth.
Electrical service to 417 customers was interrupted as poles fell to the pavement at the parking lot of Gladstone’s 4 Fish restaurant, in the heart of the closure area.
In Ventura County, a nine-mile section of the coastal route was closed where a mud and rock slide triggered by the previous storm on Sunday covered PCH between Yerba Buena and Las Posas roads.
The two closures left three canyon routes open between Malibu and the 101 — Kanan-Dume, Malibu Canyon and Topanga Canyon boulevards — as well as a few twisting mountain roads. But those roads opened and closed all afternoon, as scattered rockslides fell and were quickly scooped away by county and state crews.
A car on Malibu Canyon Road was hit by two boulders and damaged about 3:30 p.m., but the rocks were quickly plowed out of the way.