A scenic stretch of Highway 1 near Big Sur that collapsed because of a winter storm this week will cost millions of dollars to repair, and it is unclear how long it will take before the roadway is fixed, officials said.
The highway collapse occurred Thursday about 15 miles south of Big Sur, officials said.
Caltrans earlier closed 40 miles of Highway 1 between Fullers Lookout and the San Luis Obispo County line after a winter storm threatened mudslides near the Dolan Fire burn scar, officials said. The wildfire last fall burned over 128,000 acres, destroying vegetation and causing the soil to weaken.
“We wanted to have the closure in place just in case evacuations become mandatory,” said Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers. Evacuation orders were never issued for the portion of the highway that collapsed, Shivers said.
Caltrans maintenance crews discovered the section of collapsed highway about 4 p.m. Thursday, Shivers said. Caltrans issued an emergency contract to Papich Construction, he said.
The company will work under Caltrans engineers to ensure the repair is up to state standards, Shivers said. There is no timetable for the project’s completion.
The destruction is known as a slip out, a collapse that occurs when the soil on either side of the road is so saturated nothing can hold it, Shivers said.
Central Coast rainfall topped 15 inches this week, triggering mudflows that damaged at least 25 structures in the area, officials said.
Firefighters used earth-moving equipment Thursday to rescue a horse and pony from deep mud near the Sierra de Salinas mountain range on the northeast side of the River fire burn scar. The wildfire burned more than 48,000 acres last fall. The soil there is unstable and, without vegetation to hold it in place, at heightened risk for debris flows and mudslides.
A winter storm stalled in the region Thursday before moving to Southern California, bringing moderate mudslides to Orange County and hail to Los Angeles County beaches.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.