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Coming storm triggers Highway 1 closure alert

Greta Mart/KCBX
For months after the May 2017 Mud Creek slide, Highway 1 was closed at Ragged Point.

UPDATE TUESDAY, NOV. 27, 2018 10 A.M. Caltrans announced Tuesday morning it plans to close two sections of Highway 1 around Paul's Slide and Mud Creek. The closures go into effect at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Here's part of the advisory from Caltrans, alerting the public "to be prepared for closure of the roadway tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28 mid-morning due to a significant storm. A final notice will be sent when the roadway closes. Caltrans will have our Geotech, Maintenance and Construction units on call and prepared to inspect/clean up during daylight hours when the storm ends and it is safe to be onsite again. The gates on either side of Mud Creek and Paul’s Slide will be key locked. These gates will not be manned when the highway is closed. No one, including Emergency Services or Caltrans employees, will be allowed access until a proper assessment can be made and any necessary cleanup has been completed."

As the state's transportation agency warned earlier this month, a temporary closure of Highway 1 between Ragged Point and Big Sur is possible this week. The National Weather Service says a coming storm could be severe enough to warrant closures at two high-risk sections: Mud Creek and Paul’s Slide.

In late October, Caltrans announced it planned to preemptively close a section of the popular coastal roadway during winter storms, if National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] forecasts predicted enough rainfall to possibly trigger a landslide, mudslide or rockslide in spots still unstable after major slides in 2017. 

Caltrans spokesperson Susana Cruz says first a 48-hour warning notice will go out, as it did Monday morning.

"The 48-hour [notice] is basically saying, 'be ready,'" Cruz said.

Cruz said the temporary closure advisories are "for the public to be ready in the event the roadway needs to close due to a predicted significant storm and allow time for the public to prepare for the closure including stocking up on necessary supplies and making plans."

Cruz also said the closures are aimed at protecting people on the road—because the newly rebuilt sections are still settling.

"A whole hillside is not moving, but because of all the work that was done, we need to allow settlement of the slope to take place," Cruz said. "It could take up to a couple of winters for it to really settle into what it's going to be."

Caltrans officials say they will provide a 24-hour notice Tuesday morning if the highway will be closed starting on Wednesday.


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