Highway 1 Collapse Strands Motorists in Big Sur After California Storm

A chunk of Highway 1 near Big Sur fell into the ocean this past weekend (Photo: Caltrans)

Thousands of motorists found themselves stranded in the coastal community of Big Sur on Saturday, March 30, after heavy weekend rains caused a major section of California’s iconic Highway 1 to collapse into the ocean.

The incident, which occurred near Rocky Creek Bridge, approximately 17 miles south of Monterey, led to significant travel disruptions and left as many as 1,600 people unable to continue their journeys.

Recovery efforts began early Monday morning, with convoys of vehicles slowly moving along a single lane of the highway. However, the majority of individuals trapped in Big Sur were able to leave on Sunday after a single lane was reopened overnight, according to Kevin Drabinski, a spokesperson for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). To ensure the safety of motorists, observers were positioned at the site to assess the condition of the roadway during the passage of convoys.

Highway 1 near Big Sur on March 31, 2024 (Photo: Caltrans)

Businesses in Big Sur were also impacted by the highway collapse, including Nepenthe restaurant, where about a dozen employees found themselves trapped and had to seek accommodation with friends or family. The Big Sur Lodge opened its conference room to provide temporary shelter for some stranded motorists, while others spent the night in their vehicles.

One edhat reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated they were camping north of this area for the Easter weekend when the road washed out.

“We planned to drive back on Saturday but with all of the traffic we extended our camping trip for another night and drive north through Monterey and Salinas to travel back home on Highway 101. There was a lot of traffic but were happy to get home safely,” the edhatter wrote.

While another vehicle convoy was escorted through the affected area on Monday afternoon, motorists were advised to avoid the location if possible.

Caltrans has announced plans to install concrete barriers to create a safe lane and protect workers as they stabilize the edge of the roadway. However, the timeline for the road to fully reopen remains uncertain.

A chunk of Highway 1 near Big Sur fell into the ocean this past weekend (Photo: Caltrans)

Highway 1, known for its breathtaking views, has experienced numerous closures in the past due to collapses, mudflows, and rockslides during severe weather events.

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service predict a potential for rain in the coming days which has cancelled convoys. On Tuesday afternoon Caltrans announced, “Due to a forecast of rain, daily convoy passage on [Highway 1] near the Rocky Creek Bridge will be cancelled for Thursday April 4, and Friday April 5. Convoys expected to resume on Saturday April 6, at 8 am and 4 pm.”

As the recovery operation continues, authorities are urging motorists to remain patient and seek alternative routes where possible. Updates on the progress of repairs and the reopening of Highway 1 will be provided in the coming days as the situation unfolds.

A chunk of Highway 1 near Big Sur fell into the ocean this past weekend (Photo: Caltrans)

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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