A scenic stretch of California coast will finally be ready for road trippers as Highway 1 reopens more than a year after a landslide.
The access to the well-known tourist spot has been cut off over the last 18 months. In 2016, fire blazed through the mountain slopes and forced the authorities to close the stretch of road to give the firefighters time to work.
Then, rain poured hard in winter and caused the hillsides to erode. Eventually, the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge buckled and caused its closure. Since then, the Big Sur has been divided into north and south areas. However, when the road that cuts through the famous mountains to the Central Valley collapsed, only the south area provided access to the Big Sur.
As the authorities were finding a solution for the problem, a landslide at Paul's Slide and Mud Creek cut off the southern route. For some time, some areas of the Big Sur were not accessible to people except a number of locals.
The usual commute between the two neighboring towns turned a 20-30 minute drive to 90 minutes and up to four daunting hours, depending on the destination.
Stan Russell, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce's chief executive, said that people in Big Sur have a resilient spirit that can get through the issue.
Now, the area has finally gone through the crisis. On July 18, the Caltrans District 5 tweeted that as of 9:45 a.m., it has finally reopened the Highway 1 at Mud Creek. This is the first time it has been fully opened in over a year.
#Hwy1 at Mud Creek south of #BigSur is OPEN for business as of 9:45am! Safe travels, everyone. pic.twitter.com/hxX3AgQ1Dp — Caltrans District 5 (@CaltransD5) July 18, 2018
Tourism Effects In The Area
Businesses which have let go of their employees during the dip in tourism caused by the road closure are also looking forward to bringing back more staff. Furthermore, restaurants and hotels have already put up hiring signs, said Russel.
Alicia Hahn, manager of the popular restaurant Nepenthe, said that the highway's reopening was a relief. Hahn has been working for the restaurant for 20 years. She said they used to have 117 employees but the closure of Highway 1 left many people jobless.
Since the economy of the area depends on tourists, its tourism capacity has been dwindling from 40 percent to 60 percent. Even wedding planners hope to finally have reservations roll in.
The road now extends 76 meters west of the original road. The Caltrans also announced that one-way traffic might occur at times due to crews working in the area.