Story at a glance
- Heavy rainfall and floods severely damaged California’s Highway 1.
- Despite being accident prone, the highway is a big tourist attraction
California’s scenic Highway 1, which hugs the state’s coastline, suffered severe damage on Thursday evening just south of Big Sur in Central California.
VIDEO: Aerial images show the missing 150-foot section of #Highway1 near Big Sur, California which collapsed into the Pacific Ocean after a massive downpour caused a landslide pic.twitter.com/m25GOrAJsv— AFP News Agency (@AFP) February 1, 2021
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the collapse was due to heavy rainfall slamming the Pacific northwest that eventually moved south. More than 7 inches of rainfall hit the coastline, while 16 inches of rain slammed the inland mountains.
Water and debris pouring downstream landed on a portion of California’s Highway 1 near Rat Creek, which forced a part of the highway to collapse over the cliffside.
Engineers from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) issued a $5 million emergency repair contract late on Thursday and inspected the site on Friday. Restoring the highway, however, is still under talks.
“It’s going to be closed until further notice,” Colin Jones, a Caltrans spokesman, told reporters. “We have a contractor on board but until the assessment is done, we don’t have a timeline for repair.”
The highway previously stretched over a mountainous region above the Pacific Ocean and has been damaged by serious flooding and landslides before.
The community of Big Sur, however, remains accessible, despite a major infrastructural artery collapsing. Officials note that drivers won’t be able to take Highway 1 all the way through Big Sur, but it will still be accessible.
Landslides brought on by winter weather have reportedly plagued the stretch of highway for years, frequently incapacitating the Big Sur community. In 2017, a part of the Pacific Coast Highway collapsed, leaving residents isolated for about eight months. Some people needed to be airlifted to certain destinations.
Locals note that these collapses and other damages make it difficult or impossible for some residents to get to work.
Regardless, the scenic highway is a major tourist attraction in California, and the state intends to reconstruct it as a standard route.