It may take a year to clear the Mud Creek slide in Big Sur. It's being called the biggest landslide to hit the Central Coast in recent memory.
On Saturday May 20th, millions of tons of rocks and dirt collapsed over Highway 1. The slide created a new coastline 250 feet out from where it had been the day before. No one was hurt.
Mud Creek is right near the border of Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, eight miles north of Ragged Point. Highway 1 has been closed at Ragged Point to Big Sur-bound traffic for months because of this was an active slide area.
Now a quarter-mile stretch of the two-lane highway now lies under a solid wall of dirt, 40 feet high.
On Thursday, Caltrans invited the media to the scene. It was an awesome sight, an entire mountain side crumbled into the sea.
Caltrans engineer Rick Silva pointed to the new shoreline, an estimated 16 acres that wasn't there before. Silva described the prelude to slide.
“For the three weeks before this, it was pretty active, it just kept getting worse every day, we kept losing more and more of the road,” Silva said.
“We had a construction operation going on, so by the week before it happened, we pretty much cancelled all construction work. We were just backing off and getting out of here. And then, I think our last day out here was Thursday or Friday and then Saturday it went.”
The first question reporters had was how long it would take to fix it.
“It is going to take approximately a year,” Caltrans spokesperson Susana Cruz said. “We have to see if there’s any roadway underneath here, which we feel it might be gone. Just several weeks of being able to assess, design and get an idea of what the fix will be.”
Cruz added at this early point, there’s no estimate of how much it will cost to restore California’s scenic coastal highway along the Central Coast.
Big Sur businesses north of the downed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge remain accessible from the north.