OldWestNewWest.com: History & Travel Magazine

Feb 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Things to Do Scenic Drives More Trouble for California’s Big Sur As Mudslide Closes Highway 1

More Trouble for California’s Big Sur As Mudslide Closes Highway 1

Hits smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon
As if Big Sur's tourist businesses and campgrounds didn't have enough to worry about because of a chunk of Highway 1 sliding into the sea, now a mudslide has closed another section of California's scenic road.

A series of heavy March storms have been pounding the California coast, and Thursday, March 24, 2011 a section of saturated hillside gave way about 25 miles south of Big Sur at Limekiln Creek, closing both lanes with rocks and mud.
lime_1bCalifornia Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and California Highway Patrol units responded around 5:30 a.m. to the emergency and rerouting traffic. Caltrans had expected that section of Highway 1 to open late in the day, but in the afternoon a large boulder rolled down the hillside striking a contractor's loader.

While there were no injuries to the operator, the loader was damaged and Caltrans suspended all road clearing work. Crews were expected to resume work on March 25, but Caltrans said the hillside remains unstable.

Until the cleanup operation can be completed, Highway 1 is temporarily closed on both sides of Big Sur; Rocky Creek on the north and Hermitage on the south.

Meanwhile, work continues to build a temporary repair to the damage on Highway 1 as a result of a 150-foot section of the southbound roadway that slipped into the Pacific Ocean on March 16.

hwy1slide1b_3_24_11The closure is north of Big Sur from the Bixby Creek Bridge to Palo Colorado Road, south of Carmel. This barricaded closure is for all travel including emergency vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

Crews assessing the roadway have tentatively determined that, at the earliest, it will be at least one month for a temporary repair to occur.

Condon Johnson & Associates of Oakland is the contractor for this $2.5 million emergency project and is currently mobilizing for the temporary repair. Drill rigs are on site with vertical and horizontal soil nails installation in order to stabilize the remaining roadway section.

This site is an active construction zone and the slope remains unstable so the roadway is unsafe for public access.

According to a Caltrans spokesperson, people have been going past road closure barriers and approaching the washed out area.

CHP officers have now been assigned to the site 24 hours a day to secure the slide area and ensure safety for the public, the Caltrans spokesperson said.

California State Parks is notifying hundreds of campers headed for the Big Sur area that although a portion of California's coastal Highway 1 is closed, all state park campgrounds remain open with all reservations honored.

Those campgrounds include Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and Point Sur Lightstation State Historic Park.

For additional coverage of the Highway 1 road slide, click here.