Vehicles proceed through a repaired Highway 330 on Friday. Heavy rains washed away sections of the we ve had people working 24 highway in December 2010 prompting a closure of Highway 330 from Highland to Running Springs. (Al Cuizon/Staff Photographer)

By Jesse B. Gill Staff Writer
Posted: 06/17/2011 06:19:47 PM PDT

Drivers in the San Bernardino Mountains now have a key route back after Caltrans reopened Highway 330 on Friday.

The winding highway closed Dec. 22 after an intense rainstorm that washed out sections, leaving Caltrans officials worried it might take two years to repair it.

But the road reopened less than six months after it was closed.

“I’m astounded that we’re here today,” said Caltrans District 8 Supervisor Ray Wolfe. “This is a great feat.”

Caltrans held a ceremony on the highway on Friday – near the spot where there used to be a 90-foot chasm – to reopen the road and honor the people who worked to repair it.

“Since about mid-January, we’ve had people working 24 hours a day, seven days a week so we could get this road reopened,” Wolfe said.

When Highway 330 closed, it cut off a major route to the mountains from the San Bernardino Valley. The closure forced residents to go out of their way and use highways 18 or 38 to reach mountain communities normally accessed by Highway 330.

The closure affected mountain businesses that rely on skiers and snowboarders who come up the mountain to visit the ski resorts.

In early April, Caltrans opened Highway 330 to one-way commuter traffic twice a day. Drivers headed down the mountain could use the road in the mornings and drivers heading up used it in the afternoons.

And during that time, drivers got their first look at how much work it took to make the road safe to drive on, Wolfe said. And they likely realized what Caltrans officials thought the first time they saw the damage after the December rains.

“We were all stunned,” Wolfe said.

Crews built a 200-foot concrete wall and filled spots where the road washed away.

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