Help Save The Old Ridge Route Road
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The Old Ridge Route Road is a part of Old US Route 99 and a historic (R.S. 2477) highway on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places that is located in the Angeles National Forest. It is also one of only two roads in California that have been inducted into the National Register for their unique character and engineering design.
The Old Ridge Route Road started off as the Tejon-Castaic Pass and in 1897, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared the road a public highway over federal land. In 1915 the Old Ridge Route became a state highway as part of California's Legislative Route 4 (District VII) from 1915-1926. In 1926, the road was re-designated US Route 99. It wasn't until 1933, that the Ridge Route was superseded by the Ridge Alternate US Highway 99. For this reason, the Old Ridge Route Road's right-of-way was relinquished back to the County of Los Angeles.
In March of 2005, the road sustained damage due to the storms that caused the road to washout in some areas. In that same year (2005), the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works (LACPDW), vacated the road so that the U.S. Forest Service could qualify for federal aid and repair the road. As a result, the U.S. Forest Service closed the road off to vehicles.
In 2007, the U.S. Forest Service had not yet started any repairs to the damage the road sustained in 2005. With the road needing to be repaired and the U.S. Forest doing nothing to repair the road, the Ridge Route Preservation Organization (RRPO) stepped in and contacted the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration at Colorado on their own. The repairs to the road were started almost immediately within months of the RRPO's initial request to the Federal Highway Administration. Despite the repairs made to the road, the road has remained closed off to vehicles because it is no longer a County public highway.
The improper vacation of the historic Old Ridge Route Road as a public highway has severely compromised the road's ability to qualify for federal programs to rehabilitate it.
The vacation of the road as a public highway by LACDPW was a huge mistake on a large scale. The vacation of the road also caused the underlying land at the south end of the road to be reverted to the private property owner.
The vacation of the Old Ridge Route was said to be needed to allow the "underlying fee owner," the U.S. Forest Service to assume the maintenance responsibilities. After much investigation and analysis of records obtained by the RRPO's research team regarding the improper vacation of the historic road, we have come to know that the vacation was done under mistake and misrepresentation of facts to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (LACBOS). The U.S. Forest Service is not the underlying fee owner, they are only the stewards of the lands owned by the United States. If assuming the maintenance responsibilities was the main purpose for vacating the road then a title search and an instrument of conveyance would have helped to transfer the land's right-of-way to the U.S. Forest Service free of any encumbrances. Unfortunately, no title search was conducted and no instrument of conveyance was recorded, just the vacation was recorded.
R.S. 2477 rights-of-way are special rights granted to the County of Los Angeles by the United States Congressional Act of July 26, 1866, "the right of way to build and construct highways on public land not reserved for public use, is hereby granted." It is an old mining law that granted miners, farmers and homesteaders of private land the right-of-way to build roads on federal land without intentionally trespassing federal land during the settlement of the western United States during the mining era.
When the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared the Old Ridge Route Road a public highway in 1897, the County also accepted the maintenance responsibilities of the road. Once R.S. 2477 rights-of-way are established by the county on federal land, those right-of-way are very hard to extinguish. Therefore, the vacation of the Old Ridge Route Road is invalid and should be rescinded by the LACBOS. And the recorded instrument thereto cancelled.
We need your help in reopening the road to vehicles so that visitors and locals can access the seven (7) other historic landmarks located along the Old Ridge Route Road. People with disabilities cannot walk to these sites to enjoy them, that's why vehicles are needed and are considered very important to travel the road.
Please help us to save the Old Ridge Route Road from forever becoming an abandoned road due to a terrible mistake.
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