ENVIRONMENT

Huge Landslide Buries More Of Scenic California Highway

The aftermath continues from an unusually rainy winter.

A massive landslide covered a section of California’s famous Highway 1 last weekend that’s been beset by falling rocks and debris this year. 

Video footage released by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department on Monday shows a layer of rock and dirt 35-40 feet deep atop a stretch of the roadway in Big Sur about a third of a mile long. 

“Mother nature hard at work,” said a tweet from Caltrans, the state’s transportation department. 

Images recorded from the sheriff’s department’s plane shows that the debris reshaped the shore beneath the highway. 

Caltrans had already pulled its workers and equipment from the area about a week before the landslide, spokesman Jim Shivers said. 

“We were fearful that something could happen,” Shivers told HuffPost. “We didn’t think it would be anything like this.”

There’s no estimate on how soon the road could reopen or how much it will cost to rebuild, Shivers said.

The highway hugs the California coast for about 655 miles and normally is a popular scenic route for motorists.

The Saturday landslide occurred in an area called Mud Creek that had already been battered by shaky grounds that have repeatedly given way due to California’s unusually wet winter. 

“The slide went from bad to worse over the weekend and the video will give you a glimpse at the undertaking needed to open the road again,” the sheriff’s department said in a Facebook post

Efforts to restore other sections damaged from earlier landslides were also called off while Caltrans officials wait for the ground stabilize, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune

The state is replacing the Phfeiffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur, which was closed in February due to cracks and slipping support anchors brought on by the heavy rains. 

The storm-related road closures have increased the isolation of Big Sur’s residents and hurt its local businesses. The area of California’s central coast is popular with tourists for its beaches and camping but has few roads connecting to other parts of the state. 

More than 61 miles of Highway 1 in Big Sur and surrounding areas have been closed this year, the Mercury News reported.  

CONVERSATIONS