The plan to clear a massive landslide that fell on Highway 1 in Big Sur earlier this year is to not clear it. Instead CalTrans will build a road on top of it.
The slide at Mud Creek is the largest ever on the Big Sur coast. It dumped 5 million cubic yards of rock and dirt onto the highway and into the ocean back in May.
CalTrans’ Jim Shivers says the old road likely isn’t under all that debris. “There was evidence of previous asphalt and asphalt debris at the waterline that had been pushed down when the slide occurred,” says Shivers.
The slide happened just near the southern border of Monterey County and completely cut off Big Sur from the south.
Over the years, CalTrans has addressed slides and slide-prone areas on Highway 1 in a variety of ways. It considered a tunnel for Mud Creek. But Shivers says building a road on top of the slide is the quickest and most affordable solution. He adds not fixing the highway was never an option.
“You know we hear from people or you read the comments that we should simply walk away from Highway 1. That it’s just too much to deal with. That you are simply going to have to respond to more slides in the future,” says Shivers. “That’s always been the case on Highway 1 given the geography and location. It’s not part of our thought process to abandon locations.”
CalTrans expects to know exactly how much this will cost and how long it will take by the end of the month.
As for the failed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, which has cut off part of Big Sur from the north, that’s on track to reopen in late September.