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CA Highway 1 Reopens in Big Sur

Monday, July 23, 2018

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More than a year after a record-breaking wet winter for California, which caused extensive damage to infrastructure, a portion of the state’s scenic Highway 1 along Mud Creek has finally been reopened. A landslide buried the road last May.

The disaster dumped 6 million tons of rock and dirt along roughly a quarter-mile section of the coastal highway in Big Sur.

Winter Damage

The weather also caused significant damage for other infrastructure, including 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 washed out by storms in February and subsequently demolished in March.

In April, Caltrans announced that contractor Golden State Bridge, of Benicia, would replace it with a new span constructed via the “roller launch” or “incremental launch” method.

Highway 1 Restored

The reopening of the Mud Creek stretch of Highway 1 marks the last piece of the puzzle needed to let the highway flow back on without any other closures. John Madonna Construction restored the highway at a cost of $54 million, with officials striving to reopen the highway by mid-September. The date was bumped up to this month.

According to Caltrans, repair work also included the construction of a quarter-mile of “new roadway alignment built on the slide material and a compacted embankment at the south and north ends.” The roadway is now also “150 to 260 feet above sea level and buttressed with a series of embankments, berms, rocks, netting, culverts and other stabilizing material.”

Caltrans officially reopened Highway 1 on Wednesday (July 18) morning, two days ahead of the bumped-up schedule, and the official ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday (July 20) morning at the Ragged Point Inn.

Caltrans District 5 spokesperson Susanna Cruz described the effort that went into the project as “really Herculean.”

“It’s massive,” Cruz said. “It’s the biggest slide even in all of Big Sur history.”

Officials do note, however, that those traveling along Highway 1 could still encounter one-way traffic occasionally as other roadwork is completed.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Caltrans; Construction; Contractors; Demolition; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (7/23/2018, 8:12 AM)

I'm not convinced this highway should even exist - it has been having frequent closures due to landslides ever since it opened.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (7/24/2018, 2:40 PM)

Highway 1 is on the ocean side of the hills / mountain....lots of very obvious slide areas (recent and former) and with the tidal action of the ocean, the west side of the roadway will be under constant impact by erosion. Not the greatest place to put a road or highway, but considering the surrounding terrain, it's almost the only place you can reasonably get a road through on that side. The next best alignment seems to be taken by Highway 101 already, 25 miles inland on the other side of those mountains, but it still ties into Highway 1. After that, you're into the area of Interstate 5, 50+ miles from the ocean. If they want a pretty oceanside drive, it's going to cost a lot in maintenance.

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