Massive Landslide Buries Part of California State Route 1

Cheryl Sanders
May 27, 2017

California experienced one of its soggiest winters this year, which caused a number of mudslides, floods and numerous road closures along the winding coastal road.

The Mud Creek landslide covered the road, also known as State Route 1, in a 35-40 feet deep layer of dirt for about 1,500 feet.

There is no indication yet of how long it will take to fix Highway 1, whose scenic views are a major tourist draw to the area. It's the largest mudslide she knows of in the state's history. Spokeswoman Susana Cruz tells the Associated Press that "it's still moving", and it will take some time to assess the scope of the cleanup and rebuilding process that is to come. Landslides along California's coastline have become more frequent as climate change has accelerated the rise in sea levels and increase in high tides.

While the area affected is not the busiest section of the highway, as many as 6,000 vehicles a day typically pass through the stretch of road blocked by the landslide during the summer tourist season.

Last year, a wildfire burned for almost three months in the Los Padres National Forest and on private land, sparked by an illegal campfire. As access to Big Sur remains closed, some resorts are relying on helicopters to fly in visitors.

Kirk Gafill, president of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce and owner of the historic Nepenthe Restaurant, said people who make a living in the area have to contend with Mother Nature more so than global economic cycles.

The area had already been closed to deal with damages caused by the lesser landslides, so no injuries or damage to equipment was reported. The replacement is set to open in September. He said Tuesday he wouldn't trade in his work location for somewhere safer.

"I don't think they anticipated anything of this magnitude", Shivers said. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

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