A powerful winter storm washed out a large portion of California’s Highway 1 this week, bringing heavy rain and snow to the region.
On Friday, a statement from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced that about 15 miles south of Big Sur at Rat Creek, a debris flow “overwhelmed drainage infrastructure, flowed across the highway, and eroded the road resulting in the complete loss of a segment of Highway 1.”
Blocked Highway 1
On Thursday at around 4:00 p.m., California Highway Patrol Officer John Yerace was near the area when he saw that a portion of the southbound lane “had fallen off into the ocean.”
Officials revealed photographs and drone footage from the scene, which showed a massive gap between two sets of roads that used to make up the highway.
Caltrans personnel discovered the debris flow on Thursday and immediately sought assistance from Papich Construction in San Luis Obispo County in repairing the damage to the road. Emergency personnel and Caltrans crew arrived at the scene around daybreak on Friday and discovered “both lanes of the highway had washed out.”
Caltrans released a statement announcing that the damage assessment team would continue working through the weekend to repair the road. However, officials were not able to specify a date on when the repairs would be finished.
After seeing the extent of the damage to the road, Officer Yerace stayed at the scene to assist passing motorists avoid the threat of the gap. “Some time overnight, prior to 6:30 this morning, we responded back to the scene with the assistance of Caltrans access and realized that the roadway is now gone,” he said.
The incident was similar to another case in May 2017 where a separate portion of Highway 1 was filled with tons of rocks along a quarter-mile of its route due to a massive mudslide. The event caused the road to be unaccessible and brought 13 acres back to the coastline, CNN reported.
California State Governor Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency for both Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties due to approaching winter storms. He said that the weather systems “threatened to cause mud and debris flows.” Officials quickly evacuated thousands of residents in the regions to ensure their safety.
The recent atmospheric river-fueled storm damaged at least 25 structures in Northern California after mudslides and debris flows ravaged the areas. Officials said the worst-hit regions were where wildfires previously hit as well.