Highway 1 through Big Sur will reopen by April 30, two months earlier than expected, Caltrans announced April 8.
The section of the highway near Rat Creek closed after a Jan. 28 mudslide that washed about 150 feet of roadway into the sea. Caltrans expected the road to reopen in early summer, but good weather meant the agency was able to fast-forward work on the project.
The closure means that communities on the coast of northern San Luis Obispo County, such as San Simeon and Cambria, have been cut off from a prime route for visitors from Northern California. The opening of the scenic stretch of Pacific Coast Highway, as well as the gradual relations of COVID-19 restrictions, could mean more visitors to those areas in the near future.
“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a news release. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”
Crews having been working seven days a week on the road during daylight hours, Caltrans said. Caltrans is establishing the base of a new road during the next two weeks, which will then be paved and striped, and will continue construction work after the road is reopened.
Some of the continuing road work will focus on installing a new redundant drainage system, which will improve water flow during future storms and make the road more resilient. The agency will also be working on landscaping and installing permanent guardrails through the early summer.