Three snow removal teams have been at work all night, in an effort to clear snow from the Arctic Circle portion of Highway 18, on the seven mile or so stretch from the Big Bear Dam to Snow Valley, in hopes of having the road re-opened in time for the weekend. More than 30 slides and snow drifts have crossed the roadway since Monday, and some of these piles of snow are as much as 15 feet deep. CalTrans has had up to three snowblowers, several loaders, and snow plows on Highway 18, just to keep a path for emergency access and the contractor hired under an emergency contract which, again, is the A.J. Acosta Company based in Big Bear Lake (the same contractor who cleared the Arctic Circle of avalanche snow last week). In a conversation with Andy Acosta this morning, he tells KBHR, “We have twice as much snow as last time, and this is heavier snow.” CalTrans has estimated that, with the assistance of the Acosta Company and another from Beaumont, Highway 18 may be re-opened by Friday evening to accommodate weekend traffic to the Big Bear Valley. Says Acosta, “We worked through the night, 24 hours, and we’re going to keep working until they tell us to stop, or the road is opened.”
So though Highway 18 down the front grade to Highway 330 remains closed today, the eastern end of Highway 18 to Lucerne Valley is open and free of chain requirements as of yesterday afternoon. Highway 38 through Angelus Oaks, as well as all roads within the Big Bear Valley, remain under an R2 requirement, so you must have chains on the drive wheels of your vehicle, unless in a four-wheel drive with snow tires and carrying chains. Local roads are icy this morning, so allow extra time and proceed with caution.