Four different landslides rolled into one buried California's famous coastal highway under millions of tons of earth and rocks last Saturday night at Mud Creek. Located eight miles north of Ragged Point - where Hwy. 1 has been closed to Big Sur-bound traffic for months - the slide brought down enough dirt to extend the current shoreline by 250 feet. State Route 1 now lies under about 35 feet of dirt for a quarter mile.
“The roadway is buried. And it goes up the slope, and it’s down to the shore...I mean, think millions of cubic yards, it’s just massive," Caltrans spokesperson Susana Cruz said.
The Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge replacement job was on-track to be completed by the end of September, and Route 1 was to be reopened then. But now it will be months, if not years, before tourists can once again travel the length of the Central Coast.
"We have to assess the damage. We have geologists and engineers looking at it. We had some that went yesterday, some went today, so by the end of week we will have a better idea of what the fix will be. But certainly, we feel like we have lost the roadway," Cruz said.
Coastal residents of a 60-mile stretch between Ragged Point and Big Sur have already been isolated since late February, when slides ruined the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge. Now with the Mud Creek slide, those residents are further hemmed in with no easy way to get out.
"Unless you take Nacimiento-Fergusson [Road], which is a county road and that’s what we’re using to be able to get people in and out, the locals, some deliveries, some supplies, basically, when feasible," Cruz said.
Caltrans is sending a convoy of trucks carrying construction material for the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge project via the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road again on Thursday, May 25. Motorists planning to use that road to drive from Hwy. 101 to the coast on Thursday should do so before 8 a.m., says Caltrans.