The Mueller Tunnel has long been a right-of-passage for many mountain bikers riding the outstanding front country trails of the Angeles National Forest. It is near Eaton Saddle along the Mount Lowe Truck Trail. The tunnel was closed after a landslide almost sealed the western end of the tunnel in 2009. The area has experienced many rock slides over the years. The steep, rocky terrain above the tunnel and fire road remain unstable and unsafe.
There has also been significant damage to the retaining walls which support the fire road next to the tunnel. Several years of heavy rain, and the subsequent Station Fire have kept the area closed for some time. In its current condition, the Mount Lowe Fire Road would remain closed even if the Station Fire closure order was removed.
Mt. Lowe Fire Road provides mountain bikers and hikers access to the Mt. Lowe trail, Sam Merrill Trail, Idlehour trail, and was a popular shuttle option from Mt. Wilson road. It was originally constructed in 1942. It also provides volunteer trail crews like CORBA’s convenient access to those trails for trailwork.
The Federal Highway Administration and the Angeles National Forest are proposing to reconstruct a portion of the roadway adjacent to the tunnel, to restore through access for Forest Service and fire fighting vehicles as well as for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use. The construction would involve a new retaining wall to tie in to what remains of the existing retaining wall. The objective is to restore the fire road to existing roadway widths and stabilize the road.
The Federal Highway Administration is requesting public feedback on the project. Feedback should be sent in by March 4, 2011 to Mr. Micah Leadford (HFPM-16), Federal Highway Administration, 12300 West Dakota Avenue, Suite 380, Lakewood, CO 80228 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org; by telephone at 720-963-3498.
CORBA will be submitting our feedback in the comings weeks.