MONTEREY COUNTY — The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported on Friday, Feb. 5, that steady progress by the Caltrans crews on both sides of Rat Creek to clear plugged culverts, remove standing water and debris, clear rockfall, and repair roads, the northern and southern limits of the closure on Highway 1 on the Big Sur coast are scheduled to change.
As of 6 pm Friday, the northern end of the Highway 1 closure on the Big Sur coast will move south from Post Mile 34.1 to PM 32.6 just south of Esalen Institute. This will permit full access to the last businesses on the coast before reaching Rat Creek.
Crews will be working throughout the weekend behind this new closure limit to fortify a turnaround point at Lime Creek at PM 32.1 which is expected to be in operation by early next week. Located one mile above Rat Creek, the Lime Creek turnaround is planned to be the landmark limit for public travel south on Highway 1 while repairs are being made at Rat Creek.
The southern closure on Highway 1 will be moved north at 6 pm Monday, Feb. 8, from its current location at Willow Creek Rd. at PM 11.1 to PM 16.0 just north of Pacific Valley. In approximately two weeks, this southern closure is expected to move north up the coast again to the Big Creek Vista Point at PM 27.3, where a turnaround is being constructed.
There is still much repair work to be done on Highway 1 between Rat Creek and Big Creek Vista Point. This stretch of road will continue to be a high priority for crews and contractors. This section of road contains multiple locations of plugged culverts which were overwhelmed by debris flows. Rockfall still needs to be cleared behind the netting at Cow Cliffs, and stabilization and repair of sections of roadway must be accomplished before this section can be opened to the public.
Intensive assessment continues at the Rat Creek site. Surveys by land and air have provided necessary data to describe the topographical conditions now in place after the immense debris flow. Geotechnical and environmental studies also continue. Crews have also begun to edge out into the debris flow basin itself to start to remove woody debris.
Crews are working at the site seven days a week. There is no current estimate of a timeline for when this assessment phase will be completed. Ongoing efforts to continue unplugging culverts and removing debris within the newly reopened segments of Highway 1 will continue with flagging operations. Travelers are advised to use caution and may find short delays.
This update comes a week after Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation for Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties due to the winter storms that caused mud and debris flow, forced the evacuation of thousands of residents, and damaged critical infrastructure, including washing out a portion of Highway 1.
The emergency proclamation directs Caltrans to formally request immediate assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program and the Office of Emergency Services to provide assistance to local governments.
The full text of today’s proclamation can be found here.
Caltrans reminds motorists to move over and slow down when driving through highway work zones.
For traffic updates on other state highways in Monterey County, travelers may contact Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at (805)549-3318 or can visit the District 5 website.