Removal of sediment in connection with the controversial Devil’s Gate Dam project began on Tuesday after a delay of about two weeks because of rainy weather and other concerns.
The project is expected to include as many as 425 daily round trips, by approximately 95 diesel trucks, through the intersection at Berkshire Place and Oak Grove Drive and onto the 210 Freeway — all part of a Los Angeles County effort to take away 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment from behind the dam at Hahamongna Watershed Park.
On Tuesday, 62 trucks were used because some did not meet the project’s emission standards, said Steve Burger, assistant deputy director of the county Department of Public Works. Burger and other county officials at the site said that overall the first day was a success, though they were responding to such concerns as dirt spilling off some of the trucks.
LCF 4 Healthy Air, a group of local residents who aim to reduce safety and health hazards to the community affected by the so-called Big Dig project, said there were 275 round trips Tuesday.
Group members including Elizabeth Krider and Kelly Davis could be seen observing the project that afternoon with La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette, La Cañada High School Principal Jim Cartnal, LCHS 7-8 Principal Jarrett Gold, City Councilman Greg Brown and LCF Public Works director Patrick DeChellis, among others.
At Berkshire and Oak Grove, as sheriff’s Deputy Ashween Nand directed traffic and students walked by, Cartnal monitored truck traffic and waved to young drivers. Cartnal said everything was “going mostly to plan” but noted that he witnessed dirt flying out of some trucks.
Dorothy Wong, an Altadena Town Council member, said she was worried about bicyclists trying to travel through the intersection because of the truck traffic, signage and little room to maneuver.
An LCF 4 Healthy Air statement urged people to be “extra careful” at the intersection and remain observant of bicyclists and pedestrians, and to note that the sheriff’s deputy will be there in the afternoons.
DeChellis said he expected a new traffic light to be installed next month at the intersection to help resolve some of the issues. The light will be a left-turn signal for those going north on Oak Grove and turning onto Berkshire, with a corresponding “no right turn on red” signal for those going south on Oak Grove and turning right on Berkshire, LCF 4 Healthy Air said.
Sediment removal is expected to take place from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday with hauling ending at 3:30 p.m. Removal is to take place through November this year and from April-November in 2020-22.
The sediment removal is aimed at restoring habitat and increasing flood protection within the Arroyo Seco Watershed. Work to clear out vegetation and trees started in November 2018.
Residents with concerns can visit the project website at dpw.lacounty.gov/swe/devilsgate or call the county Public Works hotline at (626) 458-2507. Those who don’t get answers in a timely manner or answers they don’t understand can contact DeChellis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 790-8882. For information about LCF 4 Healthy Air, visit LCF4HealthyAir.org.