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Highway 1 in Big Sur reopens with one-way traffic controls after 6-week closure

PIX Now morning edition 5-17-2024
PIX Now morning edition 5-17-2024 11:43

A portion of state Highway 1 in Big Sur that was closed because of a rockslide in March reopened on Friday morning with one-way traffic controls. 

The repairs will allow businesses to reopen to the public as soon as Friday. The Big Sur Branch Library at Ripplewood Resort will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Friday. It will resume normal business hours on Saturday. 

A section of the highway collapsed and fell over the cliffside south of Rocky Creek Bridge, about 17 miles south of the city of Monterey, on March 30. Nobody was injured. 

Caltrans crews reinforced the highway with steel bars known as rock dowels for the temporary repair work. Permanent repairs are in the design phase and are expected to be completed in early 2025, according to Caltrans.   

Ground saturation from recent storms was blamed for the slip-out of a six-foot chunk of pavement in the southbound lane on the coast side of the highway. The northbound lane was left intact, allowing for limited one-way access for residents and workers during the otherwise full closure. 

The reopening came eight days ahead of schedule, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.  

"Crews have been working day and night to quickly repair the damage to Highway 1 caused by recent storms, which has disrupted the lives of individuals living in and around Big Sur -- limiting access to the area and hampering tourism," Newsom said in a statement.  

The governor sought federal funding through an emergency declaration in early May. He said the reopening would bring a sense of normalcy back to area residents, who were restricted to relying on daily convoys led by the California Highway Patrol and Monterey County Sheriff's Office that ran twice a day. 

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce president Kirk Gafill estimated the closure was costing businesses in the area about $1 million per day in losses in the popular tourist area. He said about 80% of the workforce in the community was working reduced hours because of the restricted access. 

Caltrans crews installed 40 vertical and 75 sub-horizontal steel rock dowels and covered the exposed cliffside with shotcrete, which is sprayed concrete used on vertical or overhead surfaces.  

"Highway 1 is the jewel of the California highway system and our crews have been working non-stop for the last month and a half so Californians can have unrestricted access to this iconic area of our state," said Caltrans director Tony Tavares.

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