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:

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.

Comments (5)
  1. Doug says:

    He is right. A third world country is moving over here unchecked at an alarming rate.

  2. Fred says:

    It’s nuts, Caltrans should not be permitted to pick and choose which jobs they will or will not do, what tasks they will do. They’re employees of us citizens, how many of us working for companies get to decide what jobs we will do?

    If you look at many other highways in Southern California, they also require expensive repairs every year, highways going through Malibu and other coastal towns, why does Caltrans want to abandon Highway 39 and not other highways?

    Highway 39 affords access to East Fork, Morris Dam, San Gabriel Dam, Cogswell Dam, access to Mount Baldy and Big Bear, it affords an escape route North and South, it’s used by many thousands of people every year — and yet Caltrans wants to pretend it’s a “27 mile long cul-de-sac” as if the highway does not go anywhere.

    Someone at Caltrans needs to get his ass fired for even thinking of abandoning the highway.

    1. Patrick Chandler, Caltrans says:

      Issues at hand, that were not reported:
      State of California is in a serious buget crunch.
      Big Horned Sheep, considered by Dept. of Fish and Game as an endangered species. Due to mating season, if road were to open, then the highway would have to remain closed for nearly 6 months a year.
      $32 to $40 million project on a highway that in no way compares to the same usage levels or other state highways and freeways.
      Highway has been clsoed for 33 years.
      The area suffers from rockslides and other complicated and expensive geological issues.
      $1.5 million to maintain, increased costs if there is more damage, fires, floods, rockslides, etc.
      Caltrans only has a permit to operate and maintain this highway, the clearly no longer presents any benefit to the state’s road system.

  3. Background says:

    More information about Crystal Lake can be located at http://www.CrystalLake.Name/

  4. geeM says:

    It’s a unique road, and a nice piece of scenery. Since it no longer connects to Hwy. 2, it is something of a cul-de-sac. Maybe some more yelping from San Gabriel Valley would help. Squeaky wheel gets the grease ?

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