Caltrans says that right now, it has no idea how long it will take to deal with the Mud Creek slide.
But the Monterey Herald's Tommy Wright got some local perspective on where the new slide ranks among famous Big Sur earth movements:
Kirk Gafill, president of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce and Nepenthe Restaurant’s owner and general manager, grew up in Big Sur. Gafill, 55, said the only landslide in the area he can remember that was as big as the one at Mud Creek was in 1983 just north of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.
“That location was closed for 14 months,” he said.
Both Gafill and [Caltrans spokeswoman Susana] Cruz said it would be conjecture to say how long Highway 1 will remain closed this time.
Gafill’s grandparents founded Nepenthe. He said it can be hard to compare the scale of the two events, but the Mud Creek slide was one of the largest in his lifetime along the Big Sur coast.
“If it’s not the biggest, it’s certainly right up there,” he said.
Cruz said the Mud Creek slide is the biggest she can remember since joining Caltrans in 2001. She said a slide near Mud Creek at Duck Pond during the El Niño winter of 1998 caused major damage.
The Mud Creek slide is not the only one currently causing trouble along the coastal highway. Further north, at a point called Paul's Slide, a massive slide has shut the road repeatedly.
The big slides along Highway 1 have forced Caltrans contractors to stage convoys over twisting, narrow Nacimiento-Fergusson Road to get construction supplies and heavy equipment to the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge site.