Big Sur businesses, workers impacted by Highway 1 closure due to weekend slip-out

BIG SUR – A Highway 1 skid near the Rocky Creek Bridge, which closed the road from Palo Colorado Road south to the Rocky Creek Bridge in Monterey County, has hampered operations in Big Sur in a foreseeable future, but there are signs that it may not be as bad as previous closures.

“The main difference with this one is that convoys provide pretty reliable access to supplies and employees,” said Big Sur Chamber of Commerce President and Nepenthe CEO Kirk Gafill. “But that doesn’t take into account the economic impact on businesses.”

The error occurred Saturday, shutting down the highway and stranding about 1,600 residents and visitors. Since Sunday, Caltrans has opened Highway 1 twice daily to convoys, but those convoys were canceled Thursday and Friday due to rain forecasts. They should resume on Saturday.

Gafill said nearly 100 percent of business volume is generated by visitors to the area. Currently, all national parks in the region are closed and officials advise against visiting the Big Sur coast.

Businesses in Big Sur will take a hit due to the restricted flow of traffic and tourism dollars in the days and possibly weeks to come.

Gafill said that won’t change or improve until public access resumes with at least some traffic using the northbound lane, where convoys were traveling. He added that it was a good sign that there was no weight limit.

If Caltrans can stabilize the road and restore public access to a single lane, business should be able to rebound to pre-skid levels, Gafill said. The sooner that happens, the sooner Big Sur businesses can recover.

In 2017, when the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge was rebuilt after its failure that closed Highway 1 for months, the economic impact was about $1 million a day, Gafill said citing state figures .

The Big Sur coast and Highway 1 attract visitors from around the world who want to experience the area’s natural beauty. The effects of the shutdown are certainly being felt locally, but also have implications for the state. People tend to cancel trips to destinations that have problems getting from one point to another or limited access to the attractions that bring them here in the first place.

The Big Sur International Marathon, scheduled for April 28, uses Highway 1 in that area as part of its route and organizers have not yet determined how to accommodate this latest weather-related event.

“As long as the highway is closed, the northern section will see visitors change their plans,” Gafill said.

The impact will be felt by both businesses and employees who have learned over time to manage periodic disruptions to the flow of visitors.

California Daily Newspapers

Back to top button