Big Sur Road Closed at Palo Colorado and at Bixby Bridge (Spring 2011)

Cloud over Rocky Creek

Cloud over Rocky Creek

    Update June 9, 2011: Highway 1 through Big Sur is open all the way from Carmel to San Luis Obisbo. Alder creek slide is cleared.

    Update April 15: Cal-Trans said at least one lane at Rocky Cr. / Bixby Cr. could be open by April 25th. Unfortunately, Alder Creek (South Coast) slid again and is closed, but N-F is open. Walking across at Rocky Creek, they are not too strict about time. You have a few minutes leeway if you are late. (But if you are on time its really fun to see so many more friends :-)

    New article on Cal-Trans Solution — “Big Sur Road Closed: Viaduct at Rocky Creek Long Term Solution”

    Update April 11: Only road closure is at Rocky Creek/Bixby Creek. All other roads are open.

    Rocky Creek is not expected to open for one-lane until May. Take that rumor with a dose of Salt. The Rocky Creek repair is not getting cut into rock – it is a dirt hillside. They have to drill a long way down and in to find something resembling solid rock. (I’m guessing at least a hundred feet in and a couple of hundred feet down.) When it gets repaired I will have a far greater appreciation for this short section of roadway.

    Update: While Alder Creek slide is “clear” – or good enough to use, whole Big Sur mountain sides are “moving” – and not up-hill ;-) Rocky Creek: Cal-Trans is still letting us walk across but ONLY at 7 am and 4pm SHARP. (Big Sur South Coast travel is closed after 7pm at Lucia and at Ragged Point. “The checkpoints are at both ends. Just north of Lucia Lodge, and just south of Ragged Point.” For details see Kate’s Blog.)

(The original report resumes here –)
Wednesday evening about 5 pm, an estimated 72 to 108 feet of the Southbound lane of Highway 1 slid down the cliff just South of Rocky Creek bridge. (Not at Hurricane Point as early reports described.)

Cal-Trans and the Highway patrol closed a couple of miles of Highway One starting at Palo Colorado Canyon/Road if you are driving South. If you are driving North from Big Sur village, the road is closed at the Bixby Creek bridge.

The road may be closed for months; maybe for the rest of springtime. Will the Big Sur marathon be canceled?

Overview – There are 3 major slides as of Apr 3 noon:
1. Just South of Rocky Creek (North Coast)
2. Limekiln “Chimney” (South Coast )
3. Alder Creek (South Coast )

Rocky Creek=closed for a month ~ April 25
Limekiln is one lane, but operating.
Alder Creek=Open (with qualifications)

You can drive to Big Sur by using Nacimiento Ferguson Road because Alder Creek is South of there. Until Alder Creek is cleared you can not drive up Hwy One from Cambria.

and APPARENTLY (Not guaranteed) CalTrans will let you walk across at Rocky Creek if you get there at 7am and 4pm EXACTLY. If you’re late – forget it.

Here’s an good report from “Big Sur Kate” (far better researched, more accurate, deeper, and more useful and than the traditional media) : http://bigsurkate.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/highway-one-closed-for-several-months/

Use this link to get Kate’s comprehensive set of slide and road reports.

The North Coast slide is in the second turn South of the Rocky Creek Bridge. (Remember the Rocky Creek Bridge earthquake retrofit? and where we had to stop for the temporary traffic lights ? Right there, in the northernmost left hand curve, where we waited in our cars while driving into Carmel.)

You might note the earliest photo shows a small part of the road fell away first, then a much bigger section slid later. Also note that the slide section has fresh asphalt, it was just recently repaved.

Update 1: The problem with repairing the road is that the ground under the road at this point is not rock; it is soft dirt. That’s why you see the cassion foundation in some of the photos.

Update 2: Here’s a link to a you tube video of the original slide taken by Brandie KW: http://www.youtube.com/user/brandiekw

Update 3: There is some confusion about the breadth of the road slide. Local media reports it at 40 feet (probably from a Cal-Trans press release). Here’s how I reached the much larger estimate of “72 to 108 feet.”

Examining the photographs shows there are at least 18 guardrail posts spanning the slide. Big Sur has two guardrail spacing standards for dangerous areas – 6 foot and 4 foot. (The 6 foot spacing seems to be an older standard, while the 4 foot is for newer repairs.)

If the posts are spaced at 4 feet – that means the road slide is at least 72 feet long. If the posts are spaced at 6 feet – means the road slide is at least 108 feet long.

You can still drive to Big Sur using the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road, or come up from Cambria. The CHP may let you walk from one side of the closure to the other. (and for those who don’t walk, of course you can still get back and forth by boat, windsurfer, catamaran or helicopter . . . ;-)

Big Sur’s Spring is going to be (already is) beautiful and peaceful.

PS If you’re going to take a Catamaran, give me a call. I have a spare wetsuit.

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