After months of intensive high-tech study, Caltrans has announced its plans for dealing with the monster landslide that severed Highway 1 near the southern end of Big Sur in May.
Some had speculated that the agency might decide to build a bridge over the slide, which covers about a quarter-mile of the highway just south of the community of Gorda.
Some had wondered whether Caltrans might try to burrow, Devil's Slide-style, through the mountain that unleashed the torrent of rock, dirt and mud at the tail end of last winter's nonstop deluge.
But the solution engineers have hit upon is none of the above.
After probing the slide area and watching how it moves with ground-penetrating radar, motion-sensing radar and other instrumentation -- the Mercury News' Lisa Krieger visited the site and wrote a great story about the process in June -- Caltrans decided the best route is across the slide itself.
From the Caltrans press release on Tuesday:
The new roadway will be realigned across the landslide and will be buttressed with a series of embankments, berms, rocks, netting, culverts and other stabilizing material, according to department engineers and geologists.
“Our staff has been working hard to tackle the weather-related challenges faced by Highway 1,” said Malcolm Dougherty. “We have made tremendous progress on Pfeiffer Canyon (the site of a February bridge failure further north), have opened Paul’s Slide and now we have good news on the slide at Mud Creek. Our goal is to reconnect the areas impacted by the winter storms as quickly and safely as possible.”
This strategy will allow Caltrans to rebuild the roadway more quickly and at a lower cost than other alternatives such as structures, a tunnel or major earthwork that places additional fill into the ocean."
The agency says it will have more details on the project, including when Highway 1 will reopen across the slide, by the end of August.
Meantime, construction continues at the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, near the community of Big Sur, which was knocked out by a slow-moving mud/landslide during storms in February. Caltrans has said the new span will open by the end of September.