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Highway 39 Shutdown Plan Reminds San Gabriel Valley Businessman Of ‘Third World Country’

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(CBS) Ed Mertz
Ed Mertz has been at KFWB since March of 2000 and began reporting for...
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textalerts180 Highway 39 Shutdown Plan Reminds San Gabriel Valley Businessman Of Third World Country
azusa Highway 39 Shutdown Plan Reminds San Gabriel Valley Businessman Of Third World Country

Adam Samrah, owner of the Crystal Lake Cafe and Trading Post (credit: Yelp.com)

AZUSA (CBS) — A proposal by California transportation officials to cut spending is drawing heavy criticism from Southland business owners.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports Caltrans has threatened to closed down a stretch of Highway 39 that runs north of Azusa into the San Gabriel mountains.

Adam Samrah, a Turkish immigrant who invested his life’s savings when he bought the Crystal Lake Cafe and Trading Post, said he has suffered physically from the stress of wondering if Caltrans will go through with its plans.

“I told them it’s not fair the way you’re doing things and I’m getting sick,” said Samrah. “I have two kids to raise, family…I don’t know what to do anymore.”

Caltrans said it may have no choice but to close down Highway 39 after the U.S. Forest Service and L.A. County rejected efforts to take it over.

The state agency is trying to unload the highway to save the $1.5 million it costs every year to repair and maintain the road that spans two sections over 27 miles from Asuza into the San Gabriel Mountains.

But for Samrah, Caltrans’ treatment of the roadway is not at all his vision of the American dream.

“It reminds me like a third world country,” he said. “I came from them and I hate them, that’s why I came to America.”

A proposed $45 million restoration project that was slated to start in fall 2010 remains outlined on the Caltrans website, but those plans have now been suspended as the state mulls its options.

Samrah and other local business owners, however, have a far different stance on who is responsible for the road.

“I feel this is their highway, their road, and they should maintain it,” he said.

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