Coldwater closure impacts school commute

Claire Goldsmith

Student drivers, parents and faculty have navigated the closure of Coldwater Canyon for water line construction since school resumed Monday, April 8. Traffic cops regulated congestion at the intersections around the construction route and on popular detours.

As of Thursday, April 11, only the stretch of Coldwater Canyon between Avenida del Sol and Harvard-Westlake Driveway is restricted to one lane. Cars can travel in both directions on either side of that area.

Throughout the closure, that one lane will remain open for residents and emergency vehicles at all times. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power workers and policemen alternate the flow of traffic in the emergency lane to allow cars with access passes to travel in both directions.

Until 8:30 a.m., traffic is unobstructed in both directions on Coldwater between Mulholland Drive and Ventura Boulevard. At 8:30, when the daily closure begins, that stretch of the road is shut down and drivers attempting to reach Harvard-Westlake must display their Coldwater Canyon access passes or explain to the traffic cops at the barricades why they need access to Coldwater.

Those headed south on Coldwater from Ventura towards Mulholland cannot make a left from Ventura onto Coldwater. In a detour, Assistant to the Head of Upper School Michelle Bracken said, those drivers can turn onto Alcove Avenue from Ventura Boulevard (between Ralphs and Starbucks) and make a right turn from Alcove onto Halkirk Street. By displaying a pass at the barricade on Halkirk, drivers can turn left onto Coldwater and drive south toward the school.

According to LADWP, the closure will end on Thursday, April 25. Until then, Coldwater will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every weekday and from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

Since Saturday, March 9, drivers have not been able to turn left from Coldwater Canyon onto Ventura Boulevard from either the north or south side of the intersection.

Director of Campus Operations JD DeMatte said that senior privileges and late arrivals to school due to a first period free would not be impacted by the construction on Coldwater, but warned students and parents to “leave an extra 20 minutes early, especially in the first few days, to figure out the traffic situation.”

Bracken warned those taking the SAT Saturday, March 9 to leave extra time to get to school on the first day of street closures. Echoing DeMatte, she told students to allow themselves up to 30 minutes of extra time to navigate the construction daily once the closure starts.

Extra Harvard-Westlake security is stationed at the top of Coldwater Canyon by Treepeople and at the corner of Ventura and Coldwater Canyon, along with Department of Transportation security, to give access passes to any parents or students who forget theirs.

The closure is the latest step in the LADWP replacement of the water mains underneath Coldwater Canyon. While the street is closed, they will complete the “energizing phase” of the project, which will involve using large cranes to fill the new pipes with water, necessitating the closure, DeMatte said.

“We’ve been working with DWP for the last five years on this project,” DeMatte said. “They’ve been amazingly good to us, and they’ve done a great job of the construction.”

LADWP had previously stated that the entire Coldwater Canyon construction project would be finished by September 2015. DeMatte said that it could be finished only a few weeks after the closure is scheduled to end in late April, although signs posted along Coldwater warn of closure and delays until June 15.