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CA Mudslides Close Roads, Hamper Rebuilding

Thursday, January 11, 2018

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Heavy rains brought flooding and mudslides to California Tuesday (Jan. 9), washing out roads in a region still rebuilding from infrastructure damage sustained during last year’s rainy season.

Santa Barbara County, in Southern California, was hardest hit, with Montecito suffering serious damage to houses and roads. At least 15 people were confirmed dead in the mudslides there as of Wednesday.

Highway Closures

The California Department of Transportation announced several road and freeway closures in the wake of the storms, including the closure of Highway 101 between Santa Barbara and Ventura, an approximately 40-mile stretch of a vital connector in the region. The road is expected to be off limits until at least Thursday night.

In one area, two lanes of I-405, which runs through the Los Angeles metro area, were closed due to flooding. Passenger rail lines between Oxnard and Santa Barbara were also closed due to mudslides; as of Wednesday afternoon, the rails were closed until further notice, according to Amtrak.

Many of the areas hardest-hit by the flooding were also at the center of last month’s wildfires, which left less vegetation to keep hillsides from subsiding.

Bridge Replacement, Road Repair

Rain also plagued areas further north, hampering work to restore Highway 1 in the area of Big Sur, on the central coast, the Monterey Herald reports. Highway 1 sustained major damage over the course of last winter, including the washout of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, a crucial link for about 450 residents to its south, who were largely cut off from the rest of the state when it was demolished in March.

CalTrans and contractor Golden State Bridge built a new bridge in its place over the summer via the roller-launch method; that bridge was completed in late November. Other parts of Highway 1 are still under repair, though, and work was stopped due to the heavy rain.

The highway remains closed at Mud Creek, on the southern end of Big Sur, where a major mudslide last May rendered the road impassable. That project is expected to last through summer.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Caltrans; Infrastructure; Roads/Highways

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