Highway 1 in Big Sur to reopen two months early after massive slide

Construction crews have made such good progress repairing a huge hole in Highway 1 in Big Sur that the scenic roadway will fully reopen on April 30 — nearly two months ahead of schedule.

The winding, two-lane highway, visited by millions of tourists from around the world who gaze at its breathtaking views, failed about 16 miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park during a drenching atmospheric river storm that hit the Bay Area, Santa Cruz Mountains and Big Sur on Jan. 28.

The Big Sur area received the most rain in that storm, up to 15 inches in some remote areas of the Santa Lucia mountains over two days. The rain caused a large section of steep hillsides that burned in the Dolan Fire last August, adjacent to the road at Rat Creek, to collapse, carving a 150-foot gash in the roadway in southern Monterey County just north of the community of Lucia.

Caltrans engineers had expected the work to repair the road would take until mid-summer.

But they said dry weather conditions over the past six weeks helped accelerate construction.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin.

“The fixes made will allow for safe travel,” he added.

The landslide sent tens of thousands of cubic yards of dirt washing into the Pacific Ocean hundreds of feet blow, carving a steep V-shaped chasm where the lanes once ran.

Road crews have worked seven days a week during the day to fill the canyon with compacted dirt to the road level. A new roadbed will be built during the next two weeks as part of the $11.5 million project, followed by paving and striping.

Highway engineers had studied several options, including a bridge, to repair the stunning gap in the roadway, photos of which drew worldwide attention. Crews settled on a plan to replace the main drainage system at Rat Creek with an oversized culvert, a secondary culvert and smaller overflow culverts. They say that will increase the capacity of the drainage system, which became plugged in the storm with boulders, mud and downed trees, and help it withstand future storms.

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The contractor is Papich Construction of Arroyo Grande.

During the repairs, about five miles of Highway 1 have been closed to all vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The northern turnaround is two miles north of Rat Creek at the Lime Creek Bridge at mile marker 32.1, and the southern closure is at Big Creek Vista Point at mile marker 27.3.

Businesses north of the closure on Highway 1 in Big Sur are unaffected and remain open. So are business south of the slide. The closure makes it impossible, however, for motorists to drive from the Monterey area to Southern California entirely along Highway 1 until repairs are completed.

The winding, narrow road known as the Big Sur Coast Highway, which stretches 70 miles from the Carmel Highlands to Hearst Castle at San …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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