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Big Sur Highway 1 to reopen Friday after chunk falls into ocean

Along a nearly 40-mile stretch of Highway 1, Big Sur has been isolated from the rest of the state for weeks — with limited access for residents and essential workers — after much of the road fell into the ocean at the end of March.

But on Friday — earlier than expected — the damaged section of the scenic highway will reopen to the public, via an alternating single lane, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday at a news conference. The reopening, following major repairs and remediation, restores access to several tourist hotspots along the route.

“Caltrans is working overtime,” Newsom said. “Subject to force majeure, extreme winds, improbable rain… we will succeed: at 6:30 a.m. this Friday, Highway 1 will be reopened.”

The California Department of Transportation previously pledged to reopen the damaged stretch of highway by Memorial Day.

The iconic road has been closed to the public since March 30, when torrential rains hit the coast and a section of the southbound lane near the Rocky Creek Bridge collapsed, about 12 miles south of Carmel .

Authorities worked to restore access to the area using only the northbound lane, as it was not damaged when falling rocks severely damaged the southbound lane. Caltrans plans to use traffic signals to alternate vehicles traveling in both directions on the single lane.

Newsom acknowledged Tuesday the “deep anxiety” residents and business owners have felt in recent weeks, coming and going only through twice-daily convoys, which have been canceled repeatedly due to weather concerns . The local chamber of commerce had requested expedited repairs to prevent further losses during one of the peak seasons for tourism in Big Sur, the region’s largest industry.

The closure following the March slide was particularly difficult because access to much of Highway 1 had already been limited to travelers coming from the north, as another section of road has been closed since January 2023. About 30 miles south of the Rockies A landslide and a series of landslides – including one this winter – have closed about 12 miles of road near Lucia. This closure begins near Limekiln State Park in the south.

Repairs there are still underway and officials said they hope to reopen that stretch this summer.

During the closure of Rocky Creek, crews have been working since March to improve the stability, safety features and drainage of the area. Caltrans contractors recently began work on longer-term stabilization efforts to eventually reopen two-lane traffic, with plans to drill vertical and horizontal supports deep into the cliff.

A recent analysis of the collapse near the Rocky Creek Bridge determined that it was most likely caused by weather, erosion and water, common problems along the Big Sur coast, which has repeatedly suffered from highway closures and unexpected land movements, according to a report. new analysis carried out by federal geologists.

Although such events are almost impossible to predict, officials said it is good that a more precarious, deeper landslide does not appear to be the cause of the March landslide.

California Daily Newspapers

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