Traffic on a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu will be limited to one lane in each direction for three more months, but officials are hopeful that commuters and beach-goers this summer will not experience crippling traffic jams.
Workers at the site of last month's rockslide at Las Flores Canyon Road began a daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule this week to carve off the top off the bluff, removing more than 300,000 cubic yards of soil to a landfill project in the Pacific Palisades, Caltrans spokeswoman Margie Tiritilli said Wednesday.
If all goes well, grading the formerly 225-foot hillside and instituting erosion control measures should take until October, Tiritilli said.
Two homes atop the bluff were demolished late last month to prevent them from falling onto the highway.
While work continues, traffic is restricted to one lane in each direction for a 2000-foot stretch near Las Flores Canyon Road.
In the lanes abutting the bluff, stacked cargo containers form a 16-foot wall to keep debris and rocks from raining onto the roadway.
The speed limit in the area is 30 mph.
Officials said the slide area's impact on Ventura Freeway traffic and on roads connecting Malibu and the San Fernando Valley has diminished since some lanes reopened last week.
Beach traffic this year should not be much worse than on other busy summer weekends, Tiritilli said.
"PCH is moving," Tiritilli said. "And if people really want to get to the beach, it's beautiful scenery, and you can get through. We encourage people not to stay away."
Chenoa Ellis, a resident of western Malibu, said the non-rush-hour delay at Las Flores isn't bad, and there were some positive aspects to having the road closed altogether.
"It just slowed it down," she said of life in the beach town. "The whole mood and feel of the place was different."