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Caltrans Trying To Slow Rapid Erosion Under Highway 1 Near Montara

MONTARA (KPIX 5) -- The cliffside under Highway 1 near Montara is rapidly eroding and Caltrans is facing a quandary over how to stop it before the next round of storms.

"We've been watching this spot for a while, and the erosion has accelerated rapidly," said Jeff Weiss of Caltrans.

Weiss said Caltrans has gotten many emails and calls about the trouble spot and has sent out a geologist and hydrologist to the area, which is about three quarters of a mile south of the Devil's Slide Tunnel.

This winter's relentless storms have eaten away at the cliffside, putting the edge just three feet away from the solid white lane marker on the road. The erosion has left a 20-foot sheer drop and has exposed the soft dirt below the asphalt.

As a result, the asphalt is buckling and has developed a ten-foot-long crack.

"We're in a very difficult situation where we're sitting, looking at a location and trying to determine what mother nature will do next. And what cards are on the table," said Weiss.

One option is to implement a short term fix such as sheet piles, giant pieces of interlocking metal, to shore up the cliff temporarily. Another fix may be shooting concrete onto the side to hold it together as the region waits for drier weather. Caltrans said a short-term fix is not ideal.

Option two is to wait out the storms and start a long-term repair later in the year.

"Whenever you have that, it's a big operation. So if you can people down there, and get it all done at once, it's really much better than closing the road for months off and on, trying to get a quick fix in. And then coming back later and doing that again," said Weiss.

There's currently no firm timeline for a decision, but the project has been expedited. If the weather stays dry, that will buy Caltrans more time.

"Mother Nature has a schedule of her own. We're always watching that area like we always do during the winter," said Weiss.

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